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Plant Family: 



Habitat & Cultivation: 

The Salicaceae family contains both shrubs and trees with simple alternating leaves (Elpel, 2017b). The flower on these plans are unisexual and are dioecious meaning the male and female parts are found on separate plants (Elpel, 2017b). This family consists of plants that contain phenol glycosides populin, salicin, and methyl salicylate which was where aspirin originally was derived from. These properties can be found in the plants of these families in the inner bark and leaves and help treat symptoms such as headaches, fevers, and inflammation. Poplar thrives in flood plains. It grows primarily in northernmost America and grows transcontinentally

Also, Poplar is an early succession plant, meaning that it is one of the first trees to inhabit disturbed ecosystems and contribute to regrowth and regeneration.  Thus, like Comfrey, this is an excellent botanical for stabilizing, repairing, and regenerating our bodies.


Parts Used/Collection: 

Unopened, dried leaf buds

The best time to collect poplar buds is during the winter time, December-March. It is recommended that they are put into a glass jar. Poplar buds are found in the Pacific Northwest of the country, but I have not seen them in Southern of California, and can not be found in Southern California; it does not grow well in that region. They are generally a riparian ecosystem plant and prefer cold, wet conditions. They can commonly be found along riverbanks and creeks. Black cottonwood Populus trichocarpa is the species that we provided in your materia Medica this week.  This species ranges from Kodak island in Alaska to northern Baja California, and east to the Rocky Mountains in Idaho, Montana, and Canada.  Although the plant is distributed as far south as Baja, it is rare to find it there. This is a plant we included in your Materia Medica to be familiar with most if you live in the central to northern parts of the United States.  You can harvest poplar along riverbanks and search on the ground for all of the branches that fell during storms. There is an abundance of branches on the ground, and the buds can be picked off without impacting the living trees. The buds can be dehydrated to remove excess water, then placed in a jar for a standard oil fusion.  


Herbal Actions: 

  • Stimulating expectorant

  • Antimicrobial

  • Vulnerary



From the American Botanical Council (1990):
superficial skin injuries*
external hemorrhoids*
skin injuries: sores, bruises, cuts, pimples*

From Hoffman (2003):
sore throat*
chronic bronchitis*
psoriasis, dry eczema*



sensitivity to popular buds, propolis, Peruvian balsam, salicylate


Plant Constituents: 

The main constituent in witch hazel is tannins; witch hazel leaf contains 3-10% tannins and witch hazel bark contains 8-12% tannins (American Botanical Council, 2000). When determining the efficacy of a commercial product you want to make sure that the product contains the pharmacopeial grade of the witch hazel content. There are products on the market that are approved by the FDA such as witch hazel water that contains no tannin content.  You want to ensure that the product contains witch hazel distillate (American Botanical Council, 2000). 


System Affinities:



cooling, mobile, smooth, moistening




Personal Experience:

I used this in a salve for wounds. It brought comfort and moisture to the scratch that I had and I felt that it helped a little bit. I think there may be stronger options for deeper wounds but this was great for surface wounds. 



Encyclopedia of Life (2018). Populus balsamifera. Retrieved online from


Poplar (Populus candicans)

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