Category: Deciduous Trees
Facts about Cottonwood Tree, "Scientific name for Cottonwood Tree is Populus sect Aigeiros". The Cottonwood Tree is named for its cotton-like seeds, carried on the wind like tiny bits of cotton, carried far from the parent until they land and, under ideal circumstances, grow. Cottonwood trees have the species name populus fremontii. Cottonwood Tree is sometimes called the Alamo cottonwood (because it grew near the Alamo in Texas) and Fremont’s cottonwood.
Because the cottonwood was routinely encountered by settlers west and lived where they tended to settle near water, there are many places called Cottonwood. This includes but its not limited to cities in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, South Dakota, several locations in Texas, and Utah.
Physical Description of Cottonwood Tree
Cottonwood trees grow between forty and eighty feet (12.19 to 24.38 meters) high and up to five feet (1.52 meters) across. The Cottonwood Tree have broad crowns with a wide spread. The cottonwood’s leaves are heart-shaped, each leaf is shiny green and three to five inches (7.62 to 12.7 cm) long. The leaves turn yellow or orange in the fall, this occurs in October or November.
On young Cottonwood Trees bark is smooth and the bark is thick, gray and deeply grooved on older trees. This is thought to protect it from grass fires that regularly raged across the prairie. The fruit of the female Cottonwood Trees are egg shaped, each half an inch long. They split into three separate parts, revealing the cottony seeds. The seeds tend to disperse in March and April.
Cottonwood trees can live to be a hundred years old.
Habitat of Cottonwood Tree
They only grow in wet soil. Native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, this means they are only found near water such as near rivers, lakes and irrigation ditches. The Cottonwood Tree is sometimes found near natural springs, seeps and wetlands. It is not found above six thousand feet (1828 meters) in elevation.
The seeds tend to float until they encounter water, which weights them down. The seeds then float in the water until they encounter soil like a sandbar or lake shore. This results in many seeds taking root in damp soil, which is a prerequisite for growth.
Accompanying Species of Cottonwood Tree
The cottonwood trees often have eriophyid mite galls. The Cottonwood Tree are used by wildlife as a source of shelter. As the heartwood rots in the larger limbs, a broken branch creates a hiding place for squirrels, raccoons and possums. Bee hives will form in the hollowed limbs as well.
Related Species of Cottonwood Tree
The cottonwood tree is a member of the Populus Aigerios section in the Populus genus. It is a member of the salicacea family and malpighiales order. There are two subspecies of the cottonwood tree. Populus fremontii subspecies fremontii is found west of the Continental Divide. Populus fremontii subspecies metesae is found east of the Continental Divide and northern Mexico.
The cottonwood borer, a beetle that preys on the cottonwood tree, is one of the largest insects in North America. It is a large black and white insect that can damage the Cottonwood Trees.
Uses of Cottonwood Tree
The species is used as an ornamental tree. They are often used around creeks and lakes for erosion control. They are planted today to create windbreaks.
The Cottonwood Tree were used by settlers as firewood and light building materials. It could be used to make fence posts but not support the weight of a roof.
Native Americans used the inner bark as a source of vitamin C and used twigs in basket making.
Trivia of Cottonwood Tree
Populus deltoids, a related species, is called the Eastern Cottonwood. The Cottonwood Tree is the state tree of both Kansas and Nebraska. That species is found in the Eastern United States and is called the Eastern cottonwood.