Within the genus Populus several species belonging to different sections are cross-compatible. Hence, high numbers of interspecies hybrids occur naturally and, additionally, have been artificially produced in huge breeding programmes during the last 100 years. Therefore, determination of a single poplar species, used for the production of ‘multi-species hybrids’ is often difficult, and represents a great challenge for the use of molecular markers in species identification. Within this study, over 20 chloroplast regions, both intergenic spacers and coding regions, have been tested for their ability to differentiate different poplar species using 23 already published barcoding primer combinations and 17 newly designed primer combinations. About half of the published barcoding primers yielded amplification products, whereas the new primers designed on the basis of the total sequenced cpDNA genome of Populus trichocarpa Torr. & Gray yielded much higher amplification success. Intergenic spacers were found to be more variable than coding regions within the genus Populus. The highest discrimination power of Populus species was found in the combination of two intergenic spacers (trnG-psbK, psbK-psbl) and the coding region rpoC. In barcoding projects, the coding regions matK and rbcL are often recommended, but within the genus Populus they only show moderate variability and are not efficient in species discrimination.