Easily identified as the seeds, coated in cotton-like tissues, disperse, Eastern Cottonwoods are fast growing, deciduous, and tolerant of urban pollution. The extensive root system, prolific seed production, and easily warped/cracked bark makes these less than ideal for city planting, although they are drought tolerant. Some cultivars are only male species, eliminating the need to clean up the cotton-like seeds.
Populus deltoides (Eastern Cottonwood)
Hardiness Zones: 2-9
Height: 15-24 meters (50-80 feet) tall, sometimes up to 40 meters (120 feet)
Diameter: 11-18 meters (35-60 feet) across
Growth Rate: fast
Age: typically 70-100 years old
Root System: extensive (does not produce clones, however)
Subspecies: ssp. monlifera, deltoides, wislizeni
Tolerates: drought (once established), urban pollution/poor air quality
Problems (major): Very prolific seed yields can cause allergies in those affected and frequently become bothersome in large quantities. Dieback, cankers, borers, aphids, caterpillars, and scale are all detrimental.
Problems (minor): leaf spots, rust
Soil requirements: performs best in “average”, consistently moist, well-drained soils
Air requirements: tolerates pollution
Watering requirement: moderate to high
Sun requirement: full sun
Cones (male): none
Cones (female): none
Leaves: triangular, toothed, dark green, to 13 centimeters (5 inches) long
Flowers: Catkins occur in March and April before the foliage. The male flowers are in inconspicuous red catkins; the female catkins are green and produce cotton-like seeds in May or July.
Fruits: cotton-like, profusely produced by older trees
Seeds require stratification: yes
Monoecious or Dioecious: dioecious
The seeds are dispersed with cotton-like tissues attached.
The wood is useful for crates and pulp. However, it breaks and warps easily, limiting it’s uses.
The foliage alongside the bark
Foliage and the female catkins post pollination
The trunk and canopy
Foliage, male catkins, and some of the cotton-like seeds
All of the images provided were taken by me. They may be used for informational/educational purposes only provided that this article/online journal is cited/referenced first.