Poplar firewood is not the best wood to burn but can be serviceable if you use it properly.
What exactly is poplar? The term poplar is often used to describe many different species of wood. For the purpose of this firewood page, I am referring to any species in the Genus Populus that is commonly referred to as poplar. This includes: quaking aspen, big-tooth aspen, and lombardy poplar.
Quaking aspen and Big-tooth aspen are both deciduous trees that have thin crowns and alternate branching. They both have leaves that are heart to round shaped. The differences between the leaves are the best way to distinguish between the two species. The big-tooth aspen has leaves with large irregular teeth on the edges, whereas the quaking aspen has fine teeth on the edges. You will find both of these tree in the Northeastern US and Canada and they often grow in disturbed areas.
The lombardi poplar is very easy to identify because of its unusual form. It is often planted as a windbreak or privacy tree because it grows rapidly. A deciduous tree that grows tall with a very narrow crown, it can grow to 60' tall with a crown spread of only 10'. They literally look like gigantic fence posts when seen from a distance.
The bark on all of these species is thin and smooth when young and become more furrowed with age.
Heating Value and Processing Ease
Poplars have very low heating value. For that reason, they are not a valued species for firewood.
The good news is that they split very easily. They also tend to break very easily because the wood is very soft. If you have them on your property, you probably know it because of how often they break in stormy weather.
Don't cut or buy poplar trees for firewood. They simply don't heat very well because they burn so fast.
However, using poplar for kindling or campfire wood isn't a bad idea if you can get the wood for free.
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