Black Poplar

In the northern section of the garden belonging to the palace, an imposing row of black poplar “italica” (Populus nigra var. italica), recognizable for its tall column-like crown, leads to the portion of the park with a maintained lawn. In the 1990s, an artificial lake was created in the centre of this, surrounded by willow bushes and fed by the Roggia Borromea, restored in part in 1928, by Count Guido Borromeo. The old canal, completed in 1690, was used to funnel the water from the Valsorda for irrigation and to power up the fountains and a water mill in the northern portion of the palace.

For its slim and slender shape, the black poplar “italica,” belonging to the Salicaceae family is appreciated for its elegance and reduced use of the land since it does not occupy too much space. Thanks to its dense and tall crown, it forms a protective shield excellent for isolating this happy oasis from the external urban traffic. Its trunk is slender and has a fluted base covered with a dark-gray bark. The numerous ascending branches form the tall column-like foliage which takes on a lovely, dense, green colour during the summer.
The Mascherone fountain which is no longer operational is visible by following the avenue of black poplar “italica” in the northeast portion of the aristocratic home. From there, looking towards the row of poplars, one can observe a curious spectacle: when the wind blows through the leaves, they move, creating evocative movements. This characteristic which makes children imagine and fascinates adults, is made possible by the shape of the long petiole compressed by the leaves which are alternate, and wider rather than longer, and have a translucent and uneven outline.
The flowers are carried by different individuals, which makes the tree dioecious. The pendulous inflorescences appear before the growth of the new leaves and pollination occurs with the wind. To prevent the female plant, once fertilized, from liberating its cottony seeds that can soil lawns and paved streets, they are usually planted in parks and after careful selection, only male individuals are planted.
The name of this plant is derived from the Latin word populus which means “mobile, in motion,” probably because of the above-mentioned characteristic movement of the trembling foliage.