90724Several native species and varieties of poplar are known collectively as cottonwood. Not many are actually planted. They just have a sneaky way of appearing in well watered parts of the garden that are as damp as the riparian areas that they naturally inhabit. Only Fremont cottonwood, Populus fremontii, gets planted, rarely, and only in big spaces that can accommodate its grand scale.

Although too big and too thirsty for most refined landscapes, cottonwoods work well for shade or erosion control in big parks. However, they need to be in a lawn or irrigated landscape if they are not close enough to riparian areas to disperse their roots into soil that is somewhat moist through most of the year. Even in riparian situations, young trees need irrigation until their roots disperse.

Cottonwoods grow fast and big, with aggressive and potentially destructive roots. They should not be planted too close to pavement or septic systems. Vigorous trees might sometimes need to be pruned to reduce excessive weight. Big trees might grow to nearly a hundred feet tall, with wide canopies. Bark is handsomely furrowed with age. The deciduous foliage turns yellow in autumn.

8 thoughts on “Cottonwood

  1. When I visited western Kansas, it was easy to spot water in the midst of that often treeless land; the cottonwoods lined the banks. I was there in fall, and have some wonderful photos of the foliage, which is beautiful.

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    1. Oh, that seed is a MESS! Moderns hybrids lack the seed, but I do not think that they are as pretty. Quaking aspen has the best fluttering leaves, but does not do so well in most regions here.

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  2. I have a couple of neighbors with huge cottonwood trees, and I hate them. What I hate specifically is the “cotton” which collects in actual drifts an inch or two deep and messes up some of the more delicate flowers like the Columbines.

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    1. Oh, that can be such a mess. We get the fuzz at work, where it accumulates in the doorways; and the cottonwoods are not even all that close. I happen to like the Lombardy poplars, but they make no fuzz.


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