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Trees (Native British)

42 43 The Black Poplar is one of the rarest and most distinctive native trees. Although easily recognised from afar it is often confused with other poplars. The trees occur naturally in riverside meadows, often leaning, over 100 feet high and 6 feet thick, with deeply ridged bark the heavy branches grow in arching curves. Just before the leaves come out in early April the male trees have red catkins known as Devils fingers and it is thought to be unlucky to pick them up. Despite the abundant seed produced, Black Poplar propagates best from cuttings and many more should be planted. There is a shortage of female trees as cuttings have long been taken from male trees that do not produce the troublesome fluff of the female catkin. Poplar timber is light and tough it was traditionally used to line cart bottoms and even build barns in Gloucestershire. Nowadays it is still used as coffin boards, shelving, toys, plywood, pallets and packing cases. Although poor firewood its open grain allows it to absorb paraffin wax and hence makes excellent matches. BlACk pOplAR Poplus nigra
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