Share this page Print

Problems with poplar trees

Poplar trees are the most common shade trees found in Calgary. Poplars offer a number of unique advantages to residents, but they’re still sometimes perceived as "annoying" .

The City values all healthy trees and while our policy is to remove only those trees that are dead, dying, severely diseased or posing a threat to public safety, we will strive to find a solution to our city’s poplar tree concerns. Below are some of the most common poplar issues.

Poplar roots

Poplar trees have an expansive root system, typically spreading out to two or three times the height of the tree. However, poplar roots are not the cause of house foundations cracking, nor do they break sewer lines. Roots grow in the presence of air and water, so when they happen upon a rich source of water or a pocket of air – such as a cracked sewer line or basement foundation – they will proliferate.

Modern construction techniques and materials are impervious to tree roots. However, faults do still occur. Repairing cracks in foundations and sewer lines will remedy the problem more effectively than removing the tree.

To report a poplar issue such as sidewalk lifting, sewer blockages or property damage, please call 311 or 403-268-CITY(2489) if calling from outside Calgary.

Poplar fluff

For a few short days in late June, white poplar fluff floats through the air and drifts over our sidewalks.

This "fluff" is actually poplar seeds that are produced by the female trees of the species, but it’s not the fluff or the seeds that are making you sneeze. Most allergists agree that the real culprits are native grasses and other plants that are flowering just as the poplars are seeding. Poplar trees do create pollen, but it is produced by the male tree in early spring, long before fluff season. Cutting down the female trees won't cure your pollen allergy.

Fluff-producing poplars are on the decline. The City hasn't planted fluff-producing poplar trees in community parks or along streets for over a decade.

Composting poplar leaves

Poplar trees produce a lot of leaves. During the summer, these leaves have many advantages – filtering dust and noise, reducing wind and providing shade, to name a few.

But come autumn, the leaves can lead to a lot of yard work. We recommend composting your leaves for rich garden mulch. If you're not into composting, leaves can be dropped at numerous locations throughout Calgary. Please call 311 or 403-268-CITY(2489) if calling from outside Calgary to find out more about composting locations.