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Italian virginal
MFA# 17.1791
Poplars, Lake George
MFA# 50.844


White poplar (Populus alba)

Any of several hardwood trees from the genus Populus. The trees are in the willow family and are found in temperate regions of the Northern hemisphere. In general, poplar is a soft, lightweight wood that is easy to work. The wood has a fine, uniform grain but it is prone to warping. It is primarily used for paneling, light construction, packing crates, cardboard and paper pulp. Poplar was frequently used in Italian panel paintings and for sculptures in southern Germany in the late Gothic period.

Common types of poplar trees include:

1) Balsam poplar (Populus balsamifer or Populus tac a ma haca)

2) Cottonwood (Populus deltoides)

3) English poplar or black poplar (Populus nigra)

4) Gray poplar (Populus x canescens)

5) White poplar (Populus alba)

6) Trembling poplar or Aspen (Populus tremula)

7) Yellow poplar or Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)

Synonyms and Related Terms

peuplier (Fr.), chopo (Esp.); álamo (Esp.); choupo branco (Port.); pioppo (It.)

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Diverse trees frow from 15-50 m tall and tend to be slender
  • Bark: smooth and white to greenish or gray
  • Flower are long, drooping catkins
  • Annual rings = well-defined
  • Rays = fine
  • Density = 22-35 ppcf

Resources and Citations

  • Alden Identification Services, Microscopic Wood Identification: Link
  • RexLumber: Link DC hardwood supplier that has extensive hardwood operations on East Coast
  • American Hardwood Information Center: Link
  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 629
  • Hermann Kuhn, Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art and Antiquities, Butterworths, London, 1986
  • F. H. Titmuss, Commercial Timbers of the World, The Technical Press Ltd., London, 1965 Comment: 25-35 ppcf
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
  • Pam Hatchfield, Pollutants in the Museum Environment, Archetype Press, London, 2002
  • CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, Robert Weast (ed.), CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, v. 61, 1980 Comment: density=22-31 ppcf (0.35-0.50 g/cm3)

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