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poplar trees are dying, why?

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by dkaney on September 13, 2004 11:01 PM
Hi everyone, this is my first visit to this site and I'm looking for any information as to why my beautiful poplar trees are dying off in big sections. What can I do to stop this and keep my trees beautiful. I have one tree that appears to be totally dead. A little bit grew back earlier this summer but has since died off. Now large sections of two of my other trees have apparently died off. Pretty much one whole side of each tree is bare and all of the leaves have fallen off. What is going on and how do I stop this from continuing. I still have two healthy trees and would like to get the two damaged ones back up to snuff. Anyone with information would be greatly welcomed.
by Bess of the Piedmont on September 15, 2004 01:41 AM
Hi. I'm a poplar fan, too. Mine are Lombardy poplars, which unfortunately are short-lived (as are many fast-growing trees) and break easily in storms. Ice storms in particular do a number on mine. I have one that looks really bad this year. Half of it seems to be dead.

The good news is that many poplars can easily be rooted by cuttings and started fresh. Get a bundle and put them in a jar of water in a semi-dark room and see if you can get some new trees started.

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by Arctostaphylos on September 15, 2004 08:09 AM
Well as Bess points out by their very nature Poplar trees live fast and die young. There are a number of of "blights" that effect poplar, but in general it effects the leaves. By your description of large parts of the trees declining and dieing I would guess that it is a fungal pathogen (of course its just a guess). Based upon my experence I do not hold out much hope your trees will improve. You may want to examine the trees looking for conks or mushrooms, if present the pathogen can be ID. Poplars are great at reproduction but poor at fighting off pathogens. As a result they are not commonly recommended for planting in urban situations. Good luck.
by Bess of the Piedmont on September 15, 2004 07:21 PM
Sounds like a good guess to me, Arcto. Every once in a while I hear about a new, improved breed of poplar. I wonder how much more hardy these are than than the old ones?

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by dkaney on September 15, 2004 08:03 PM
I've looked for pathogens but nothing is obvious. These trees were planted about 8 1/2 years ago. How long do these trees live? I didn't realize when I planted them that they would just die off like that. I don't want to lose my hard earned shade and privacy so what can I do? Thanks
by Bess of the Piedmont on September 15, 2004 08:15 PM
I suggest planting a row of slower-growing, more long-lived trees in front of the row of poplars that are dying off. What might be a good alternative? Mediterranean cypress?

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by Bess of the Piedmont on September 15, 2004 08:28 PM
This is what I was thinking about: http://ag.arizona.edu/pima/gardening/aridplants/Cupressus_sempervirens.html
but looking at the info, I wonder if it would work in your area. The columnar form is similar to the poplars, though. Maybe Arto has some ideas.

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by Arctostaphylos on September 15, 2004 11:25 PM
Well... as to the life expectancy of Poplar trees, there are about 40 species (all located in Nothern Hemisphere, 10 native to North America) the genus Populus contains trees with common name of Poplar and Aspin. Generally those called Poplar are riparian species (live along water courses) in my expierence I would consider the useful life expectancy to be 20-30 years. The fact that your trees are only about 10 years old i find puzzling. I think you could post some pics and perhaps we can give you more info. but the best answer would be to retain a qualified arborist to review your existing trees and provide some ideas as to what else would be suitable to plant. The one thing to always keep in mind is that there are always several suitable solutions (may times ppl what to act like there is one right answer). Oh one other thing, trees are living things and therefore are unperdictable on an individual bases. As to Bess's idea of introducing new trees to take the place of the Poplars I have successful used this method in the past. I have no idea if this long winded note is of much assistance but here it is. Good luck.
by Bess of the Piedmont on September 17, 2004 09:06 PM
Arcto- gotta love the long-winded answers! You fit right in, here.

I did the fast- and slow-growing row method in my back yard. For quick privacy I put up a row of willows, backed by slower-growing pine trees. The willows have done a great job screening while the pines have slowly grown behind them. It's interesting to see their progress every winter when the leaves fall from the willows and the pines are revealed.

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by Arctostaphylos on September 17, 2004 10:28 PM
Bess in our area Pines are short lived... I am curious what type of Pines you planted and what the life span is.
by Bess of the Piedmont on September 21, 2004 06:36 PM
Oops! I'm awake, now.

We planted Loblolly pines (Pinus taeda) behind the corkscrew willows. We got them from a local county-run conservancy sale. They appealed to us because of their adaptability to moist conditions. (We originally put the willows along a damp area to help drink the excess water there.) They may prove to be too tall for where they've been planted, but as with most gardening, we will live and learn. It is along the north dside of the property, so at least they will be less likely to shade the flower garden.

Here's more information than you may ever need on loblollies: http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/Volume_1/pinus/taeda.htm

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by Arctostaphylos on September 21, 2004 08:14 PM
Thanks Bess, we use Pinus taeda as an ornamental however if we get 30 years out of one were doing pretty good. I have used the site that you gave previously and like it. Thanks again, and hug a tree!

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