Black poplar trees could die out, Queen Mary University chief warns

Prof Colin Bailey plants rare black poplar at Queen Mary's Mile End campus. 

Prof Colin Bailey plants rare black poplar at Queen Mary's Mile End campus. - Credit: QMUL

A black poplar sapling – one of Britain’s rarest native trees – has been planted at Queen Mary University’s Mile End campus to help save the species.  

Only 7,000 wild black poplars now grow in Britain, with just a handful found in the East End, according to the university’s principal Prof Colin Bailey. 

He’s been overseeing a programme of planting 11 black poplars so far on university campuses. 

“We all have a responsibility to leave the planet in a better place than we found it,” Prof Bailey said. “This is one small part of our promise to prevent and halt the degradation of ecosystems worldwide, through supporting the UN’s decade on ecosystem restoration for the generations to come.”  

Black poplars are part of that ecosystem. But natural pollination is unlikely and the species could soon become extinct, the university warns.  

The trees were once common in Britain, with only a handful remaining today.  

Job done... Prof Bailey and his team plant another poplar sapling

Job done... Prof Bailey and his team plant another poplar sapling - Credit: QMUL