The Poplar Tree

There are two sorts of Poplars, which are most familiar with us, viz. the Black and White, both which I shall here describe unto you.

Descript : The White Poplar grows great, and reasonably high, covered with thick, smooth, white bark, especially the branches; having long leaves cut into several divisions almost like a vine leaf, but not of so deep a green on the upper side, and hoary white underneath, of a reasonable good scent, the whole form representing the form of Coltsfoot. The catkins which it brings forth before the leaves, are long, and of a faint reddish colour, which fall away, bearing seldom good seed with them. The wood hereof is smooth, soft, and white, very finely waved, whereby it is much esteemed.

The Black Poplar grows higher and straighter than the White, with a greyish bark, bearing broad green leaves, somewhat like ivy leaves, not cut in on the edges like the White, but whole and dented, ending in a point, and not white underneath, hanging by slender long foot stalks, which with the air are continually shaken, like as the Aspen leaves are. The catkins hereof are greater than those of the White, composed of many round green berries, as if they were set together in a long cluster, containing much downy matter, which being ripe, is blown away with the wind. The clammy buds hereof, before they spread into leaves are gathered to make Unguentum and Populneum, and are of a yellowish green colour, and somewhat small, sweet, but strong. The wood is smooth, tough, and white, and easy to be cloven. On both these trees grows a sweet kind of musk, which in former times was used to put into sweet ointments.

Place : They grow in moist woods, and by water-sides in sundry places of this land; yet the White is not so frequent as the other.

Time : Their time is likewise expressed before. The catkins coming forth before the leaves in the end of Summer.

Government and virtues : Saturn hath dominion over both. White Poplar, saith Galen, is of a cleansing property. The weight of an ounce in powder, of the bark thereof, being drank, saith Dioscorides, is a remedy for those that are troubled with the sciatica, or the stranguary. The juice of the leaves dropped warm into the ears, eases the pains in them. The young clammy buds or eyes, before they break out into leaves, bruised, and a little honey put to them, is a good medicine for a dull sight. The Black Poplar is held to be more cooling than the White, and therefore the leaves bruised with vinegar and applied, help the gout. The seed drank in vinegar, is held good against the falling-sickness. The water that drops from the hollow places of this tree, takes away warts, pushes, wheals, and other the like breakings- out of the body. The young Black Poplar buds, saith Matthiolus, are much used by women to beautify their hair, bruising them with fresh butter, straining them after they have been kept for some time in the sun. The ointment called Populneon, which is made of this Poplar, is singularly good for all heat and inflammations in any part of the body, and tempers the heat of wounds. It is much used to dry up the milk of women's breasts when they have weaned their children.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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