Also known as the silver-leaved poplar, the mature white poplar can reach a height of 30 metres. Solitary trees have a very broad and high crown with many limbs. The smooth and shiny grey bark becomes dark and rough on older trees. Young green or brown twigs are coated with dense woolly hair, especially near the tip. The leaves are oval with three to five broad lobes. They are dark green above and covered with dense white hair below. Male and female flowers are borne in catkins on separate trees and appear in March and April. The small seeds are covered in cottony fluff that makes them easily blown by the wind in late spring.
The white poplar generally grows in floodplain forests and sunny areas such as the edges of forests and fields. Like all poplars, it is not very long lived. It can be found from Western Europe to Siberia, with the exception of the Baltic countries and Scandinavia.