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POPULUS deltoides

Image of Populus deltoides

Gerald L. Klingaman

Family

Salicaceae

Botanical Name

POPULUS deltoides

Plant Common Name

Eastern Cottonwood

General Description

Enormous and fast growing yet notoriously short-lived, cottonwood is one of the largest and most widely distributed North American hardwood trees, occuring in floodplains and other moist habitats over most of the eastern and central United States. This upright spreading tree has beautiful large triangular leaves that turn yellow in the fall. The extensive fibrous root system anchors the tree against floods.

This poplar is dioecious, with female and male flowers borne on separate trees in catkins. Catkins are red on male trees; green on females. Females shed seed attached to fluffy fiber which drifts on the wind. In the domestic landscape female trees are pariahs due to the excessive cottony litter they produce. Almost all cultivars are cottonless male clones.

Like most of its clan this tree likes sun and moist well-drained soil and is an aggressive rooter, sending out a dense network of water seeking fibrous roots that can clog water lines. It’s best reserved for windbreaks and shelterbelts, parks, open spaces, ranches and greenbelts and other places where its size, toughness and vigor are assets.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 9

  • Sunset Zone

    1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21

  • Plant Type

    Tree

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    0'-100' / 0.0m - 30.5m

  • Width

    0'-70' / 0.0m - 21.3m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring

  • Native To

    Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Southeastern United States, Central United States, Canada, Mexico

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Wet Site

  • Growth Rate

    Very Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water, Ample Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    None

  • Flower Color

    Red, Green

  • Fruit Color

    White

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Gray

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Yellow

  • Bark Color

    Slate Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Fissured

  • Usage

    Screening / Wind Break, Shade Trees

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes