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Cottonwood (Populus deltoides)

Populus deltoides
(Family Salicaceae)

Image by Kendall Villmer


Adult: The cottonwood is wide spreading deciduous tree. It is pyramidal in youth and can grow to 100 feet tall.

Stem: The stems are winged. They display a grayish-yellow color.

Bark: The bark of a mature Cottonwood is depply furrowed while being weak and brittle. It has a light greenish brown color.  

Leaves: The stems are alternate, simple, deciduous leaves. The leaf is a lobed/ deltoid shape with undulate leaf margins. The leafs green in color with a grayish colored bottom. They can be anywhere from 2 to 5 inches in length.

Flowers: While the cottonwood is considered not to be ornamentally important, it produces a yellow catkin flower.

Flowering: Flowers in June or July.

Habitat: The Cottonwood is quite persistent being found commonly all over the U.S.

Native Status: It is native to eastern North  America, and quite hardy in places.

Fruit: The Cottonwood produces a white cotton-like ball elongated capsule as a fruit. They range from 0.25-0.33 inches long.

Uses: The timber of the Cottonwood is used principally for lumber, veneer, fuel and much more. Recently it has been beat as one of the leading potential species for silviculture biomass production. Saliacylic acid can be derived from the tree and can be used as a coupling agent in dye intermediates, and in retarding the vulcanization process in rubber, as a preservative for glues and leather goods, and used in latex paints. The bark tincture has been used to treat rheumatism, gout, and scurvy and infections of the chest, kidneys, and stomach. The buds have been used as a vulnerary and pectoral.

Conservation Status: This plant is considered weedy or invasive.







Submitted by Kendall Villmer, July 2012.

Wichita State University
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