Latin Name: Populus nigra
Common Name(s): Black Poplar, Lombardy Poplar, Mappa burl
Sources: Europe, western Asia, Northern Africa; planted as an ornamental in North America

Characteristics

Heartwood tends to be a light brown. Sapwood is a pale yellow to nearly white, and isn’t clearly demarcated, tending to gradually blend into the heartwood. This species also yields a unique burl that’s commonly sold as Mappa or Mapa.

Grain/ Texture

Light to medium gold w/ red brown burl clusters surrounded by angel step figure.

Workability

Easy to work with hand and machine tools, though sharp cutters are necessary when planing to avoid fuzzy surfaces, (subsequent fine-sanding may be necessary to obtain a smooth surface). Wood has a tendency to warp and distort during drying. Glues and finishes well.

Uses

Utility lumber, furniture carcasses, boxes and crates, plywood, and laminated construction lumber. Burls are used for drum shells, fine furniture, veneer, and inlays.

Availability

Commonly available as a utility lumber throughout Europe. Limited availability of harvested ornamental trees in North America. Prices are low for a domestic hardwood. Burl sections are sometimes sold as veneer sheets and are quite expensive.