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By H. Edlin

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Suckers are shoots that arise naturally from underground roots; they are common and indeed troublesome with some poplars. though absent from m_ aspen (Plate 29). E 52 Winter twig and bud of White poplar. Typical poplar features are the angular twlg5. with many-scaled buds. set alternately. cterlstic white down along twigs and on bud-scales. ltf~ Size: bud xIO). s During the brief flowering season in March. before the leaves open. the poplar genus is easily known by Its remarkable catkins. Male and fema1e catkins always appear on separate trees.

Carries numerous male flowers. bunched in groups of seven. Each male flower consiSts of sixgreen petals and about a dozen stamens. with conspicuous golden anthers. Once the pollen has been shed the wholly male catkins fade and faI1 the male part of a mixed catkin, however. remains attached to the base, until the fruit has ripened. and then falls With that. Female flowers appear near the base of smaller spreading or upcurved catkins, in little groups that look like leafy buds: they are surrounded by green bracts which fonn a cupule.

Changing from green through red to black between April and June. Each flower produces a Single long-stalked fruit which has a tough black outer skin. a thin layer of sweet yellOwish pulp thatis quite good to eat. and a large hard black stone - the true seed - at Its centre. The birds qUickly strip the trees and spread the seeds. either by dropping them or swallOwing the cherries whole. Seeds that have passed through a bird's gut are believed to germinate in the follOwing spring; otherwise the cherry stone must lie donnant on the forest floor for a whole year before it wtll sprout Cherry seedlings have two fleshy round seed-leaves that are followed by nonnal foliage.

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