Euphrates poplar

Populus euphratica

الحور الفراتي

Status: Common

This plant species from the family Salicaceae is a tree commonly known by its English name Euphrates poplar, or Desert poplar or even Salt poplar. This species has a wide range, being native to North Africa, to the Middle East, Central and South Asia and to western China. It can be found up to 4000 m height and along river valleys in arid and semi-arid regions. In Palestine and wider area, Populus euphratica is distributed in the Mediterranean wood and shrub lands, steppes, deserts and extreme deserts habitats, especially due to its tolerance to salty and dry soils.
The Euphrates poplar is a perennial, deciduous tree that grows up to 15 m high, with bent and forked stems and showing thick olive-green bark, when the tree is old. The leaves are alternate, but variable in shape. The tree is dioecious, which means that there are female trees (producing female flowers, only) and male trees (producing male flowers, only), so both female and male plants must be grown if seed is required. Female flowers are 50–70 mm long, whilst male flowers are 25–50 mm long and the flowering time is from February to April. Furthermore, Euphrates poplar is pollinated by wind, producing fruits, which are 7 to 12 mm long capsules that contain very small seeds.
Due to the large use of the Euphrates poplar for producing fire, forests of these trees have been fragmented and disappeared from much of its natural range. Despite the deforestation, there are some protected areas in Mongolia and China. In addition, P. euphratica is thus used in agroforestry for its timber and fibre for making paper. Another use for this tree species is to create barriers for wind and acting against erosion. Moreover, the bark is also reported to have antihelminthic and anti-inflammatory properties by some studies. Besides that, there are interesting new studies with P. euphratica that examine salt stress responses in woody plants by using MicroRNAs.