Theves Poplar (Populus nigra ‘Afghanica’)

Theves Poplar

  • Really Fast-Growing
  • Long-Lived “No Pollen” Variety
  • Ornamental Bark
  • Upright Columnar
  • Sound, Wind or Visual Barrier Tree
  • Butterfly Magnet
  • Hardy and Adaptable

For a very fast paced tree for a quick privacy screen or windbreak, try Theves Poplar (Populus nigra ‘Afghanica’). This is a tree that can block out that hot afternoon sun and cool the side of your house in no time!

After all, this deciduous tree can grow more than six feet in the first year! And once established in your native soil, these super speedy trees grow as tall as 9 to 12 feet a year until they reach their mature size.

They are beautiful, too. Their uniform growth habit is in a tight column with upright branches. It looks like a spire reaching into the sky.

Theves has a balanced canopy cloaked with charming, dark green leaves. Each leaf has a silvery underside, which flutters and seems to flash in the slightest breeze. This dazzling light show draws your eye from wherever you’re standing in your yard.

This tree is a tall drink of water. It’s mellow, harvest-gold fall color is evocative of the season and will be appreciated. This fall color makes a larger impact in the landscape, because of the unique columnar shape.

It will even thrill you in winter. This is a tree that is especially attractive in the winter when the leaves have gone, and you can really study the attractive white bark. Sparkly frost clinging to the upright branches is a sight to behold.

It’s easy care, as well. Theves Poplar is hardy and long-lived. It easily resists diseases and insects and is tolerant of many growing conditions. Just give it a spot in full sun for best results.

Love butterflies? Theves is a host plant for the Viceroy Butterfly, a Monarch lookalike.

If you have allergy sufferers in your home, this is a wonderful “sneeze-free” tree. Theves is a sterile female clone and is pollen-free.

It works well nearly everywhere throughout the United States. It takes hard winters and scorching summers and can live at high elevations up to 7,000 feet.

How to Use Theves Poplar in the Landscape

Theves Poplar trees really look terrific when planted in a long formal row. Or, try a natural looking drift of these trees. Vary the spacing between them and use 2 and 3 deep in places. You’ll love the look on a large property.

They also make a wonderful privacy hedge. Screen off unpleasant views no matter the time of year. The thick, upright branches themselves will block the view for you.

Their rustling leaves also do a wonderful job as both a beautiful sound barrier and to create a restful white noise.

The perfect tree for defining a property line or to line a country road or drive, plant a few to accent the entrance of your home or perhaps post some as sentries along your driveway.

The trees are particularly beautiful around ponds and large water features. The shimmering leaves that flash between silver and green make a magnificent reflection in the water.

For a windbreak, plant these first, then add a long row of Norway Spruce, White Pine and other evergreen trees behind them. Stagger them in a double row zig-zag to achieve a faster screen.

Tips for Care

The tree does best when it receives six to eight hours of full sunlight. For a privacy fence, it’s worth siting it carefully. You can even look at trimming any overhead trees to gain more sunlight.

For a continuous hedge, plant them 10 feet apart. You’ll measure from the center of one trunk to the center of the next.

For a formal row of individual trees that stand alone, plant them 20 feet apart “on center” measuring between each trunk.

This is a tree that requires space. In addition, it should not be planted close to underground water utilities, as the root system will seek water. Regular watering helps to keep the roots from spreading.

This variety can be grown in most any soil type and climate condition. While it really loves moist soil conditions, it can even tolerate short periods of drought after it’s established in your soil.

For a Poplar with a variety of unique features above and beyond the usual Poplar trees, the Theves is an outstanding choice.

Theves Poplar (Populus nigra ‘Afghanica’) Details

Common name Theves Poplar
Botanical name Populus nigra 'Afghanica'
Hardiness zone 2-9
Growth rate Fast
Height 40 - 50 ft.
Width 8 - 10 ft.
Sunlight Full Sun
Moisture Medium
Soil condition Widely Adaptable
Pollinator-friendly Yes
Leaf color Deciduous