A cultural and ecological biography of the black poplar in Britain. Fiona cooper explores the tree's historic place in the landscape, and how it has played a role in folklore and in the work of poets such as William Cowper. She explains how the tree has been used through the centuries as timber and in medicine, and then addresses the question of its conservation. She investigates the reasons for the black poplar's decline, and focuses in particular on the important populations in the Vale of Aylesbury and in Manchester, which is in danger of completely losing trees which for a century have been a distinctive feature of the urban landscape. The key to the species' survival in Britain may in fact lie in our own understanding of its genetic make-up.