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The Poplars

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THE POPLARS.

The poplars are plebeian trees, hut they have a place to fill in the economy of nature and of man, and they fill it with credit. They are rude pioneers that go before and prepare the way for nobler trees. When fire sweeps a path through the forest, the poplar is likely to be the first to heal the breach. Under the shade of its lusty saplings the seeds of more valuable trees are able to grow. By the time these are big enough to take care of themselves the poplars have reached maturity. They graciously give way, and the old-tinie forest is gradually restored. We follow nature's hints by using poplars and willows as " nurse trees our lawns and yards. It is a good idea to plant poplars with young oaks or other slow-growing trees which require slight shade for some ytmrs. When the poplars have reached maturity or lost their beauty they may be cut out to give the more permanent and beautiful trees the space they need. Poplars are also useful in screening unsightly objects.

About their prairie homes the early settlers always planted poplars first. They were sure to grow, and to grow fast. In such busy times, these were the cardinal virtues in trees. East and west we see rem nants to-day of this early planting. Venerable cottonwoods stand alone at crossroads. Broken lines of shabby Lombardy poplars tell where there was once a fence row of them. A forlorn white poplar in the midst of a pasture may once have sheltered a pioneer home, furnishing the only break in a monotonous, treeless sea of grass. What tales—what history these derelict trees could tell! The chief vice of the poplars is but virtue carried to excess. Great tenacity of life enables them to spread rapidly by suckers from the roots. This may be well in a forest. but where the ambition to multiply and replenish the earth gets posses sion of a dooryard tree it becomes a nuisance. Gutting olf the saplings and suckers only encourages them to fresh activity. To root them all out is the only way to check the trouble, and it is a long and laborious task.

The poplars are like willows in many particulars. They are in gen eral thirsty trees, growing best in moist soil. They are (OA-growing and lusty, producing soft weak wood. Branches driven into the ground, or twigs that fall in favorable situations, strike root and grow. Thu flower and fruit are like the willow. but more vigorous and showy.

Despite the close relationship, the differences between willows and poplars are very marked. The twigs of poplars are angled and stout, giving the trees a rigid look when compared with the supple grace of willows. The winter buds of poplars are encased in overlapping scales, and in many species sealed tight with a glutinous substance. The hairy scale that supports the individual flower of the catkin is notched, instead of entire, as in the willows. The leaves of poplars are broad and thick, and set on long petioles. The genus Pupulus has about twenty-five spe cies, of which twelve are native to this continent, and nine glow east of the lft)eky _Mountains.

The White Poplar, Popubbs alb«, also called Abele and Silver-leaved Poplar. is a large round-headed tree. Its leaves are dark glossy green above, and lined with a white cot tony nap. This contrast of light and shade in the foliage is most un usual and attractive, especially in early spring. But soon after the leaves unfold, they collect soot and dust in their fuzzy linings, which they carry to the end of the season. Another great fault of the White Poplar as a dooryard tree is its dis position to sprout from the roots. The wind breaks the brittle branches, and these accidents threatening its life, the tree in self-defense sends up suckers which form a grove about the parent trunk. and defy all efforts to eradicate them. The White Poplar is a native of Europe. It has spread widely in America, first as an ornamental tree, and later sponta neously by escape from cultivation.

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