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A tree 40 to 70 ft high, of spreading, lax growth, branches ultimately pendulous, with conspicuously angular, grey young shoots, downy chiefly in the grooves; winter-buds covered with balsamic gum. Leaves lanceolate, narrowly oval or obovate, rounded or tapering at the base, taper-pointed, minutely and evenly toothed, the teeth gland-tipped, 1 to 5 in. long, 1⁄3 to 2 in. wide, dark green and glabrous above, slightly downy and conspicuously net-veined on a greyish ground beneath; stalk very variable in length even with leaves of the same size on the same shoot, 1⁄4 to 11⁄4 in. long, downy. Male catkins 11⁄2 to 2 in. long, at first erect, then drooping; stamens very numerous.
P. laurifolia was described from the Altai mountains and is reported to have its centre there and in the Dzungarski Alatau, but extends into E. Siberia and to parts of Mongolia and Chinese Central Asia. It was introduced to Britain about 1830, but has never become common, and has not much to recommend it for British gardens, although an example at Kew growing in damp clayey soil made a rather elegant pendulously branched tree and reached a height of 50 ft.
P. laurifolia belongs to the group of balsam poplars with narrow leaves and angular branches. It is a parent of P. × berolinensis (q.v.).
This species is rare in Britain but is represented in the Hillier Arboretum, Ampfield, Hants, by a tree, planted in 1966, measuring 36 × 3 ft (1977).
P. lindhyana Carr