Poplar Culture

Tree People of Walla Walla recently received the following correspondence:

Thank you for the wonderful presentation about three magnificent trees in Walla Walla.  I love the gnarly bark

Gayle commented about how these trees grow rapidly to great height and girth.  She also had a lot to say about their intimate relationship with water sources, and how their presence was a good sign for the native peoples of the area.

For similar reasons, poplars were vital for the mummy people of the Tarim Basin, beginning four thousand years ago and continuing up till today, so much so that anthropologists and archeologists often refer to the culture of that mostly desert region as “poplar culture”.  So long as there was a trace of water in the otherwise sandy soil, the poplars could put down their roots and grow very quickly to full size.  Their wood was used for houses (windows, doors, roofs), fences, bridges, boats, bowls, buckets, combs, pins, statues….

Thanks, Gayle and Thomas, for the great tribute to these awe-inspiring specimens.

The letter came from Victor Mair, professor at the University of Pennsylvania and author of The Tarim Mummies, among many other volumes. His letter was written in response to the video presentation below:

Country Trees in the City, August 2020

These three trees are the remnants of a row of at least seven giant black cottonwoods on Penrose.

After making the video Tree People learned from a local resident that the trees were slated for removal in 2020 as part an infrastructure upgrade. The project was delayed and the removal is now slated for the summer of 2021.