When seen silhouetted against the winter sky on a river bank, the black poplar easily earns a place among Britain's largest, most charismatic trees. It is also one of the rarest, and its future is causing great concern amongst nature conservationists, for whom it has become something of a cause celebre.
This book is a cultural and ecological biography of the black poplar in Britain. Fiona Cooper explores its historic place in the landscape, and how it has played a role in folklore and in the work of poets such as William Cowper. She explains how the tree has been used through the centuries as timber and in medicine, and then turns her attention to the question of conservation. She investigates the reasons for black poplar's decline; the stories of the famous populations in the Vale of Aylesbury and in urban Manchester are particularly important. Finally she explains how the key to the species' survival in Britain may lie in understanding black poplar's genetic make-up.
Cultural and botanical features; The black poplar in history; Black poplar in the landscape; Black poplar population surveys; Genetic analysis; Conservation strategies; Appendix A: identification characteristics; Appendix B: a gazetteer of notable black poplar trees in Britain; Index
Fiona Cooper is National Recorder for Black Poplar for the Botanical Society of the British Isles.