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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

Large tree. Leaves: petiole flattened; lamina triangular to ovate-triangular, bearing glands near the apex of the petiole; margin crenate-serrate; base truncate; apex acuminate. Catkins 7-10 cm long, elongating in fruit.
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Source: Flora of Zimbabwe

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Derivation of specific name

deltoides: shaped like a triangle (referring to the leaves)
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© Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten and Petra Ballings

Source: Flora of Zimbabwe

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Comments

Eastern Cottonwood develops very quickly into a rather coarse and robust tree. Its shiny leaves glitter in the sunlight, and they make a conspicuous flapping sound in the wind that can be construed as either relaxing or annoying. This tree can be distinguished from its relatives from the deltate shape of its leaves, which have bottoms that are more or less flat. The narrowly rounded teeth of its leaves are somewhat unusual because they are slightly hooked, and it has flattened petioles, unlike some Populus spp. Trees that are referred to as 'poplars,' 'aspens,' and 'cottonwoods' are members of the same genus and closely related to each other.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Description

This native deciduous tree is 60-120' tall at maturity. It develops a single stout trunk up to 4-6' across and forms an ovoid crown in open situations. The trunk bark of mature trees is thick, gray, and coarsely ridged. The abundant branches are ascending above and drooping below; they are somewhat crooked and knobby. Branch bark is light gray to gray-brown and fairly smooth. Alternate leaves are 4-5" long and 3-4" across; they are deltate-ovate in shape and crenate-dentate along their margins. The teeth of the leaves are slightly hooked. Individual leaves have flat bottoms and slender tips. The upper leaf surfaces are medium green and glabrous, while their lower surfaces are pale green, hairless, and dull. Leaf venation is pinnate. The slender petioles are nearly as long as the leaf blades; they are light green, glabrous, and somewhat flattened. Eastern Cottonwood is dioecious; individual trees produce either all male (staminate) flowers or all female (pistillate) flowers. These flowers are produced during the spring before the leaves develop in the form of drooping catkins about 2-3" long. Male catkins occur in clusters of 2-4 near the tips of branches, while female catkins are produced individually. Each male catkin is bright red or yellow and cylindrical in shape, consisting of a dense mass of nearly sessile male florets. Each male floret consists of a dish-shaped basal disk and 20-60 reddish or yellowish stamens. At the base of each male floret, there is a fringed bract. Each female catkin is green and cylindrical in shape, consisting of many female florets on slender petioles (see photo of Female Catkin). Each female floret consists of a dish-shaped basal disk and a single ovoid pistil about 8 mm. (1/3") long. Each pistil has 3-4 flattened stigmata with undulate margins. At the base of each female floret, there is a fringed bract. The florets are wind-pollinated. Afterwards, the male catkins wither away, while the female catkins elongate to 4-6" in length while developing their fruits. During early to mid-summer, these fruits split open to release their seeds. Each fruit releases about 30-50 seeds with cottony hairs. The seeds are distributed by the wind and can travel several hundred feet in the air. They also float on water and can travel downstream. Individual seeds are about 2 mm. long. The woody root system is shallow and branching. This tree reproduces by reseeding itself. Cultivation
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Description

Populus deltoides Bartr. ex Marsh., eastern cottonwood, is a fast-growing tree which reaches 80 to l00 feet in height and 3 to 4 feet in diameter. It is a relatively short-lived tree, seldom surviving for more than 80 years.

The leaves are broadly triangular, ovate in outline, 3 to 5 inches long and nearly as wide. They are dark green, lustrous above, and paler and smooth beneath. The marginal teeth are somewhat hooked, being larger toward the leaf base and smaller toward the pointed tip.

Twigs are rather stout, round, and distinctly enlarged at the nodes. The conical, pointed buds are smooth, glossy, and olive-brown to reddish-brown in color. The bark of younger trees is rather smooth and greenish-gray. On older trunks it becomes ashy-gray and is roughened by long, deep, longitudinal and interconnecting furrows.

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USDA NRCS Plant Materials Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Distribution

Worldwide distribution

North America
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© Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten and Petra Ballings

Source: Flora of Zimbabwe

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Range and Habitat in Illinois

Eastern Cottonwood is a common tree that is probably found in every county of Illinois (see Distribution Map). Habitats consist of bottomland deciduous woodlands, banks of rivers and lakes, banks of mine spoil, picnic and camping grounds near sources of water, and sand dunes near Lake Michigan. Sometimes Eastern Cottonwood is cultivated as a landscape tree in yards. It frequently colonizes disturbed open areas that are moist. In bottomland woodlands, common associates are Black Willow, Green Ash, Slippery Elm, Silver Maple, and River Birch. There is a subspecies, Populus deltoides occidentalis (Western Cottonwood), that is found along rivers in the Great Plains region. It has smaller leaves with larger teeth than the typical eastern subspecies.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

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Regional Distribution in the Western United States

More info on this topic.

This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):

BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS [13]:

1 Northern Pacific Border

2 Cascade Mountains

3 Southern Pacific Border

4 Sierra Mountains

5 Columbia Plateau

6 Upper Basin and Range

7 Lower Basin and Range

8 Northern Rocky Mountains

9 Middle Rocky Mountains

10 Wyoming Basin

11 Southern Rocky Mountains

12 Colorado Plateau

13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont

14 Great Plains

15 Black Hills Uplift

16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands
  • 13. Bernard, Stephen R.; Brown, Kenneth F. 1977. Distribution of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians by BLM physiographic regions and A.W. Kuchler's associations for the eleven western states. Tech. Note 301. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 169 p. [434]

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Occurrence in North America

ALAZARCOCTDEFLGAILIN
IAKSKYLAMEMDMAMIMNMS
MOMTNENHNJNMNYNCNDOH
OKPARISCSDTNTXUTVTVA
WVWIWYDC

ABMBONPQSK



MEXICO

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Eastern cottonwood occurs from Alberta east to Quebec and south to Florida, Texas, Arizona, and northern Mexico [128]. Populus deltoides ssp. deltoides occurs from the Gulf of Mexico north along the Atlantic coast to Maine and Quebec; along the Mississippi River to Illinois and Ohio; and westward to Texas and Oklahoma [55,85]. Plains cottonwood ranges from Alberta east to Quebec and south to Rocky Mountain foothills, the Great Plains, Pennsylvania, the Texas panhandle, and New Mexico [55,88,147,173,194]. Rio Grande cottonwood occurs from northeastern Utah and northwestern Colorado through the upper Rio Grande and Colorado Plateau regions to southern Arizona and New Mexico, southwestern Texas, and northern Mexico [55,56,147]. The PLANTS database provides distributional maps of eastern cottonwood, Populus deltoides ssp. deltoides, plains cottonwood, and Rio Grande cottonwood.
  • 128. Kartesz, John T.; Meacham, Christopher A. 1999. Synthesis of the North American flora (Windows Version 1.0), [CD-ROM]. Available: North Carolina Botanical Garden. In cooperation with the Nature Conservancy, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [2001, January 16]. [36715]
  • 147. Martin, William C.; Hutchins, Charles R. 1981. A flora of New Mexico. Volume 1. Germany: J. Cramer. 647 p. [37175]
  • 173. Read, R. A. 1958. Silvical characteristics of plains cottonwood. Station Paper No. 33. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 18 p. [6298]
  • 194. Smith, Michael A.; Dodd, Jerrold L.; Skinner, Quentin D.; Rodgers, J. Daniel. 1993. Dynamics of vegetation along and adjacent to an ephemeral channel. Journal of Range Management. 46(1): 56-64. [20350]
  • 55. Eckenwalder, James E. 1977. North American cottonwoods (Populus, Salicaceae) of sections Abaso and Aigeiros. Journal of the Arnold Arboretum. 58(3): 193-208. [6300]
  • 56. Eckenwalder, James E. 1992. Salicaceae: Willow family. Part one: Populus. In: A new flora for Arizona in preparation. In: Journal of the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science. 26(1): 29-33. [21485]
  • 85. Gleason, Henry A.; Cronquist, Arthur. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. New York: New York Botanical Garden. 910 p. [20329]
  • 88. Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. 1392 p. [1603]

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Distribution and adaptation

Cottonwood makes its best growth on moist, well-drained, fine sandy loams or silt loams. Coarse sands and heavy clay soils are not satisfactory. It has been found to be relatively tolerant of drier sites as shown by survival and growth of trees planted on strip mine spoil. Cottonwood is resistant to flood damage and usually tolerates a soil pH range of 4.5 to 8.0.

Eastern cottonwood is distributed throughout the East and Midwest. For a current distribution map, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Website.

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USDA NRCS Plant Materials Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

More info for the terms: adventitious, dioecious, hardwood, tree

Eastern cottonwood is a native, deciduous bottomland hardwood [68,121,132,212,225]. Height ranges from 36 to 190 feet (11-57.9 m) [37,47,56,67,120,132,150,151,224]. At maturity (approximately 35 years) [132], diameter at breast height ranges from 10.7 inches to more than 6 feet (27.2-182.9 cm) [7,47,67,132,150,224]. In open areas, eastern cottonwood typically has a large trunk that divides into branches near its base and ascends to form a wide, spreading crown [47,100]. In closed stands, it tends to have a tall, straight, and relatively branch-free bole with a small rounded crown [9]. Life expectancy is approximately 100 to 200 years [9,120,142]. It is dioecious. Female catkins range from 2 to 5.1 inches (5-13 cm) long, and fruit capsules are 0.3 to 0.6 inch (.8-1.5 cm) long [56]. The bark is thick and deeply furrowed with wide, flat ridges [56,199]. The rooting depth averages 100 inches (254 cm) [97], and mature stands can reach 117.6 to 196.8 inches (298.7-499.9 cm) rooting depth [22]. 

Eastern cottonwood is drought tolerant [47,77]. It has been classed as moderately tolerant to water-logged soils [106,110] and is tolerant of short-term inundation [145]. Eastern cottonwood tolerates periodic flooding from January through April, but mortality and growth due to flooding depend on how many events per year, season of year, age class, duration, and depth [89,106,149]. A study using cuttings found that eastern cottonwood survived less than 16 days of complete submergence [109]. Roots die when soaked for more than 1 month and adventitious roots form from dormant buds in the main trunk [110,220].

Plains cottonwood is a quick growing, short-lived deciduous tree [4]. It is smaller than P. d. ssp. deltoides [173] and grows from 10 to 98.4 feet (3-30 m) [4,36,58,124,130,139,173,195,207,223]. It has a diameter at breast height of 5 to 78.7 inches (12.7-200 cm) [4,58,107,124,130,139,173,207]. It is considered the fastest-growing tree in the Great Plains. The life expectancy is about 90 years [173].

Staminate catkins of plains cottonwood range in size from 2 to 3.5 inches (5-9 cm), pistillate catkins are 5.9 to 7.9 inches (15-20 cm) long, and fruits are 0.4 inch (1 cm) in length [173]. Plains cottonwood is susceptible to drought except where water tables are high [4] and drought induced mortality can be high [173]. The average rooting depth is 10 feet (3.1 m), and the longest roots can reach 75 feet (22.9 m) [231].

Rio Grande cottonwood ranges in height from 26.2 to 65.6 feet (8-20 m) [56,59]. It has catkins with pedicels 0.2 to 0.6 inch (.5-1.5 cm) long [56].

  • 100. Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur. 1964. Vascular plants of the Pacific Northwest. Part 2: Salicaceae to Saxifragaceae. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 597 p. [1166]
  • 106. Hook, D. D. 1984. Waterlogging tolerance of lowland tree species of the South. Southern Journal of Applied Forestry. 8: 136-149. [19808]
  • 107. Hopkins, Rick B. 1984. Avian species associated with prairie woodland types. In: Noble, Daniel L.; Winokur, Robert P., eds. Wooded draws: characteristics and values for the northern Great Plains: Proceedings of a symposium; 1984 June 12-13; Rapid City, SD. Great Plains Agricultural Council Publication No. 111. Rapid City, SD: South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Biology Department: 27-35. [1192]
  • 109. Hosner, John F. 1958. The effects of complete inundation upon seedlings of six bottomland tree species. Ecology. 39(2): 371-373. [115]
  • 110. Hosner, John F.; Boyce, Stephen G. 1962. Tolerance to water saturated soil of various bottomland hardwoods. Forest Science. 8(2): 180-186. [18950]
  • 120. Johnson, R. L.; Burkhardt, E. C. 1976. Natural cottonwood stands--past management and implications for plantations. In: Thielges, Bart A.; Land, Samuel B., Jr., eds. Proceedings: Symposium on eastern cottonwood and related species; 1976 September 28 - October 2; Greenville, MS. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University, Division of Continuing Education: 20-29. [7374]
  • 121. Johnson, R. L.; Shropshire, F. W. 1983. Bottomland hardwoods. In: Burns, Russell M., tech. comp. Silvicultural systems for the major forest types of the United States. Agric. Handb. 445. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 175-179. [18953]
  • 124. Johnson, W. Carter; Burgess, Robert L.; Keammerer, Warren R. 1976. Forest overstory vegetation and environment on the Missouri River floodplain in North Dakota. Ecological Monographs. 46(1): 59-84. [6313]
  • 130. Keammerer, Warren R.; Johnson, W. Carter; Burgess, Robert L. 1975. Floristic analysis of the Missouri River bottomland forest in North Dakota. Canadian Field-Naturalist. 89: 5-19. [7447]
  • 132. Kennedy, Harvey E., Jr. 1985. Cottonwood: An American wood. FS-231. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 8 p. [4072]
  • 139. Lesica, Peter; Miles, Scott. 1999. Russian olive invasion into cottonwood forests along a regulated river in north-central Montana. Canadian Journal of Botany. 77(8): 1077-1083. [33064]
  • 142. Loehle, Craig. 1988. Tree life history strategies: the role of defenses. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 18(2): 209-222. [4421]
  • 145. Maisenhelder, Louis C. 1951. Planting and growing cottonwood on bottomlands. Bulletin 485. Mississippi State, MS: Mississippi State College, Agriculture Experiment Station. 23 p. [6294]
  • 149. McKevlin, Martha R. 1992. Guide to regeneration of bottomland hardwoods. Gen. Tech. Rep. SE-76. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station. 35 p. [20124]
  • 150. Meadows, James S.; Nowacki, Gregory J. 1996. An old-growth definition for eastern riverfront forests. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-4. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 7 p. [29708]
  • 151. Merz, Robert W., compiler. 1978. Forest atlas of the Midwest. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, National Forest System, Cooperative Forestry, Forestry Research. 48 p. [10057]
  • 173. Read, R. A. 1958. Silvical characteristics of plains cottonwood. Station Paper No. 33. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 18 p. [6298]
  • 195. Solomon, J. D. 1980. Cottonwood borer (Plectorodera scalator)--a guide to its biology, damage, and control. Res. Pap. SO-157. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station. 10 p. [6324]
  • 199. Stephens, H. A. 1973. Woody plants of the North Central Plains. Lawrence, KS: The University Press of Kansas. 530 p. [3804]
  • 207. Thilenius, John F.; Brown, Gary R.; Medina, Alvin L. 1995. Vegetation on semi-arid rangelands, Cheyenne River Basin, Wyoming. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-GTR-263. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 60 p. [26478]
  • 212. Uddin, M. Rafique; Meyer, Martin M., Jr.; Jokela, J. J. 1988. Plantlet production from anthers of eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides). Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 18: 937-941. [5422]
  • 22. Braatne, Jeffrey H.; Rood, Stewart B.; Heilman, Paul E. 1996. Life history, ecology, and conservation of riparian cottonwoods in North America. In: Steller, R. F., ed. Biology of Populus and its implications for management and conservation. Ottawa, ON: National Research Council of Canada, NRC Research Press: 57-85. [29693]
  • 220. Walker, Laurence C. 1990. Forests: A naturalist's guide to trees and forest ecology. Wiley Nature Editions. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 288 p. [13341]
  • 223. Warner, John R.; Chase, Clarence D. 1956. The timber resource of North Dakota. Station Paper No. 36. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Lake States Forest Experiment Station. 39 p. [25442]
  • 224. Weaver, J. E. 1968. Prairie plants and their environment: A fifty-year study in the Midwest. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press. 276 p. [17549]
  • 225. Wells, Philip V. 1976. A climax index for broadleaf forest: an n-dimensional, ecomorphological model of succession. In: Fralish, James S.; Weaver, George T.; Schlesinger, Richard C., eds. Central hardwood forest conference: Proceedings of a meeting; 1976 October 17-19; Carbondale, IL. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University: 131-175. [3814]
  • 231. Yeager, A. F. 1935. Root systems of certain trees and shrubs grown on prairie soils. Journal of Agricultural Research. 51(12): 1085-1092. [3748]
  • 36. Clambey, Gary K. 1992. Ecological aspects of the Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site, west-central North Dakota. In: Smith, Daryl D.; Jacobs, Carol A., eds. Recapturing a vanishing heritage: Proceedings, 12th North American prairie conference; 1990 August 5-9; Cedar Falls, IA. Cedar Falls, IA: University of Northern Iowa: 75-78. [24719]
  • 37. Cote, Benoit; Dawson, Jeffery O. 1991. Autumnal allocation of phosphorus in black alder, eastern cottonwood, and white basswood. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 21: 217-221. [14142]
  • 4. Albertson, F. W.; Weaver, J. E. 1945. Injury and death or recovery of trees in prairie climate. Ecological Monographs. 15: 393-433. [4328]
  • 47. Dickmann, Donald I.; Stuart, Katherine W. 1983. The culture of poplars in eastern North America. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University, Department of Forestry. 168 p. [6317]
  • 56. Eckenwalder, James E. 1992. Salicaceae: Willow family. Part one: Populus. In: A new flora for Arizona in preparation. In: Journal of the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science. 26(1): 29-33. [21485]
  • 58. Edminster, Carleton B.; Getter, James R.; Story, Donna R. 1977. Past diameters and gross volumes of plains cottonwood in eastern Colorado. Res. Note RM-351. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 4 p. [5516]
  • 59. Ellis, Lisa M.; Crawford, Clifford S.; Molles, Manuel C., Jr. 1998. Comparison of litter dynamics in native and exotic riparian vegetation along the Middle Rio Grande of central New Mexico, U.S.A. Journal of Arid Environments. 38(2): 283-296. [28902]
  • 67. Farmer, Robert E. Jr. 1964. Sex ratio and sex-related characteristics in eastern cottonwood. Silvae Genetica. 13: 116-118. [6306]
  • 68. Farmer, Robert E., Jr.; Pitcher, John A. 1981. Pollen handling for southern hardwoods. In: Pollen management handbook. Agric. Handb. 587. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 77-83. [12654]
  • 7. Bechtold, William A.; Brown, Mark J.; Sheffield, Raymond M. 1990. Florida's Forests, 1987. Res. Bull. SE-110. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station, Forest Inventory and Analysis. 83 p. [14579]
  • 77. Gebre, G. Michael; Kuhns, Michael R. 1991. Seasonal and clonal variations in drought tolerance of Populus deltoides. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 21(6): 910-916. [14998]
  • 89. Green, William E. 1947. Effect of water impoundment on tree mortality and growth. Journal of Forestry. 45(2): 118-120. [3718]
  • 9. Behan, Mark. 1981. The Missouri's stately cottonwoods: How can we save them? Montana Magazine. September: 76-77. [6284]
  • 97. Heilman, P. E.; Ekuan, G.; Fogle, D. 1994. Above- and below-ground biomass and fine roots of 4-year-old hybrids of Populus trichocarpa x Populus deltoides and parental species in short-rotation culture. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 24: 1186-1192. [24128]

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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Eastern Cottonwood is a common tree that is probably found in every county of Illinois (see Distribution Map). Habitats consist of bottomland deciduous woodlands, banks of rivers and lakes, banks of mine spoil, picnic and camping grounds near sources of water, and sand dunes near Lake Michigan. Sometimes Eastern Cottonwood is cultivated as a landscape tree in yards. It frequently colonizes disturbed open areas that are moist. In bottomland woodlands, common associates are Black Willow, Green Ash, Slippery Elm, Silver Maple, and River Birch. There is a subspecies, Populus deltoides occidentalis (Western Cottonwood), that is found along rivers in the Great Plains region. It has smaller leaves with larger teeth than the typical eastern subspecies.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Key Plant Community Associations

More info for the terms: codominant, forbs, graminoid, hardwood, shrubs, tree, vines

Eastern cottonwood often occurs as a dominant or codominant component of
floodplain and bottomland hardwood forests [28,42,70,112,158]. It is a principal species in riverfront forests in
the eastern United States [150]. The maintenance
of eastern cottonwood-dominated stands depends on periodic flooding [96,155,229]. Most of these riparian areas tend to
be in early successional stages and are composed chiefly of scrub willows (Salix
spp.) interspersed with occasional eastern cottonwood stands [155].

Trees: Throughout its range, eastern cottonwood can
grow in pure stands [145], but more often grows in mixed stands [10,28]. Common tree
associates include hackberry (Celtis
occidentalis) [26,30,90,111,141], sugarberry (C. laevigata) [111,141,150,161], boxelder (Acer negundo)
[10,30,111,114,131,141,161,166], silver maple (A. saccharinum)
[2,8,10,51,102,111,141,202,221], sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)
[2,26,114,131,141,150,161,196],
American elm (Ulmus americana) [8,26,62,99,111,114,141,150,161,166,202], green ash
(Fraxinus pennsylvanica) [2,3,8,62,70,99,111,141,150], sandbar willow (Salix exigua) [8,166,234], and bur oak (Quercus
macrocarpa) [118,141].

Other tree species found with
eastern cottonwood include swamp
white oak (Quercus bicolor), pin oak (Q. palustris) [90,141], white mulberry (Morus alba), black cherry (Prunus serotina), 
chestnut oak (Quercus prinus), black oak (Q.
velutina), sassafras (Sassafras albidum), tree-of-heaven
(Ailanthus altissima), bigtooth aspen (Populus grandidentata), red
elderberry (Sambucus racemosa ssp. pubens) [90], American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana), bitternut hickory (C.
cordiformis) [114,141], white ash (Fraxinus americana) [114,131],
basswood (Tilia americana) [99,114], balsam poplar
(Populus balsamifera), pussy willow (Salix discolor),
speckled alder (Alnus rugosa) [8], black willow (Salix nigra) [10,62,161,166], Shumard oak (Quercus shumardii)
[141,219], post oak (Q. stellata), cherrybark oak
(Q. pagoda), northern red oak (Q. rubra), Kentucky coffeetree (Gymnocladus
dioicus), shagbark hickory (Carya ovata),  mockernut hickory
(C. tomentosa), shellbark hickory (C.
lacinios), pignut hickory (C. glabra), river birch (Betula
nigra), red maple (Acer rubrum), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), eastern
redbud (Cercis canadensis), pawpaw (Asimina triloba), honey-locust
(Gleditsia triacanthos) [141], hawthorns (Crataegus spp.),
common persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) [141,161], black walnut (Juglans nigra)
[3,123,141], chinkapin oak (Q. muehlenbergii), white oak (Q. alba),
[118], peachleaf willow (Salix amygdaloides) [99,221], pecan
(Carya illinoensis) [26,150,161,166], French tamarisk
(Tamarix gallica) [166], eastern swampprivet (Forestiera acuminata), red mulberry (Morus
rubra), Chinaberrytree (Melia azedarach), water hickory (Carya
aquatica), buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) [161], gum
bully (Sideroxylon lanuginosum) [30], and cedar elm (Ulmus
crassifolia) [30,161].

Shrubs: Some common shrubs associated with eastern cottonwood are winged burning bush (Euonymus
alata), northern spicebush (Lindera
benzoin), black tupelo (Nyssa
sylvatica), multiflora rose
(Rosa multiflora), southern arrowwood (Viburnum
dentatum), blackhaw (V. prunifolium) [90], sand shinnery oak
(Quercus havardii), sand sagebrush (Artemisia
filifolia) [206], and common ninebark (Physocarpus
opulifolius) [8].
Graminoids: Graminoid species found in the understory of eastern cottonwood
stands include streambank wheatgrass (Elymus
lanceolatus ssp. psammophilus), sanddune sandbur (Cenchrus
tribuloides) [234], Canada wildrye (Elymus canadensis) [166,234], switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) [206], Japanese brome
(Bromus japonicus),
Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon), johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense)
[166], big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii var. gerardii), Indiangrass
(Sorghastrum nutans),
alkali sacaton (Sporobolus airoides), and eastern gamagrass (Tripsacum
dactyloides) [206].
Forbs and vines: Several forbs and vines are found in eastern cottonwood stands.
Some common species are common moonseed (Menispermum canadense), Asian bittersweet
(Celastrus orbiculatus), privet (Ligustrum spp.) [90],
poison-ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), [90,111,166,234], trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans), oneseed bur cucumber (Sicyos
angulatus) [111],
peppervine (Ampelopsis
arborea), grape (Vitis spp.), Rubus species [111,166], Smilax species, Helianthus species, American pokeweed
(Phytolacca
americana) [26], Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus
quinquefolia) [111,166], goldenrod (Solidago spp.), saw greenbrier
(Smilax
bona-nox), great ragweed (Ambrosia trifida), Canadian horseweed (Conyza
canadensis) [166], white sweetclover (Melilotus alba), roughleaf dogwood (Cornus
drummondii), coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara), and American searocket (Cakile
edentula) [234].



Classifications systems listing eastern cottonwood is an indicator species
or as a dominant component of community types, habitat types, plant
associations, or riparian site types are as follows:
Illinois [2]

Massachusetts [131]

Missouri [51]

New York [174]

Tennessee [187,192,193]

Quebec [43]

Plains cottonwood:

Trees: Common tree associates of
plains cottonwood include boxelder [4,9,12,25,39,61,74,92,105,124,130,143], green ash
[4,9,12,19,25,39,54,61,74,83,84,92,104,124,130], American elm
[9,12,19,25,39,61,104,105,124,130,143], chokecherry (Prunus
virginiana) [19,54,92,130,143,163,208], peachleaf
willow [12,20,25,36,61,95,124,130,143],
red-osier dogwood (Cornus sericea) [92,95,130,143,208], Russian-olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) [36,95], willows (Salix spp.)
[4,17,61,92,139,163,208], bur oak [19,25,61,104,105,124,130,143,173], silver
maple [4,61], hackberry [12,25,61], black willow [42,143], and sandbar willow
[4,12,25,143,175].

Other trees found with plains cottonwood include silver buffaloberry (Shepherdia argentea)
[54,139], river willow (Salix fluviatilis) [20],
black cottonwood (Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa) [96], narrowleaf
cottonwood [95,96], Rocky Mountain juniper (Juniperus scopulorum) [83,84,163], Cornus species [61], black willow
[42,143], red elderberry [143], fivestamen tamarisk
(Tamarix chinensis) [17], red mulberry [12,105], basswood [25,105], northern red oak,
chinkapin oak, bitternut hickory,
slippery elm (Ulmus
rubra), black oak (Quercus velutina), white ash,
eastern redbud, black cherry [105], American plum (Prunus
americana), eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana) [19],
eastern hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana) [25,105], eastern
redcedar, black walnut, Kentucky coffeetree, slippery elm, and rock elm (Ulmus thomasii)
[25].
Shrubs: Shrubs associated with plains cottonwood are western snowberry (Symphoricarpos occidentalis)
[4,20,54,83,84,92,130,143,163,175], Wood's rose (Rosa woodsii) [20,83,84,92,95], plains
silver sagebrush (Artemisia cana ssp. cana), [20,50], golden currant (Ribes
aureum) [92], Rocky Mountain maple (Acer glabrum)  [208],
Saskatoon serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia)  [130,208],
Douglas hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii) [208], American hazel (Corylus americana)
[105,143], American black currant (Ribes americanum),
alderleaf buckthorn (Rhamnus alnifolia), smooth rose (Rosa blanda)
[143], common reed (Phragmites australis) [175],
desert false indigo (Amorpha fruticosa) [4], toughleaf dogwood (Cornus asperifolia), red raspberry (Rubus idaeus), common cocklebur (Xanthium
strumarium), eastern wahoo (Euonymus atrourpureua), smooth sumac (Rhus glabra) [105], and skunkbush sumac (R. trilobata) [107].

Graminoids: Graminoid species found in the understory of plains cottonwood
stands include blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis) [4,50], cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) [50], Canada wildrye
[20,36,83,92,95,175], prairie cordgrass (Spartina pectinata) [175],
sand dropseed (Sporobolus cryptandrus), buffalo grass (Buchloe
dactyloides) [4], barnyard grass (Echinochloa crus-galli) [20,143], western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii)
[20,36], prairie sandreed (Calamovilfa
longifolia) [20,107], smooth brome (Bromus
inermis) [20,36,92,95], quackgrass (Elytrigia repens), green
muhly (Muhlenbergia racemosa) [20,92,95], hairy wildrye (Elymus villosusi), creeping bentgrass (Agrostis
stolonifera), timothy (Phleum
pratense) [92,95], Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) [36,92,95,107,143], sedges (Carex spp.), Bromus species, Scirpus species [39], Virginia wildrye (Elymus virginicus)
[36], Assiniboia sedge (Carex assiniboinensis),
and slender
wheatgrass (Elymus trachycaulus) [143].
Forbs and vines: Forbs and vines found in plains
cottonwood stands are Virginia creeper [20,92,95,105,124],
western poison-ivy (Toxicodendron rydbergii) [20,92,95],
peppervine [92], longroot smartweed (Polygonum amphibium),
golden dock (Rumex maritimus), riverbank grape (Vitis riparia),
Louisiana sagewort (Artemisia ludoviciana) [20], white sweetclover [20,83,84,95,107,175], wild licorice (Glycrrhiza
lepidota) [20,95], yellow sweetclover (Melilotus officinalis) [95], American
bittersweet (Celastrus scandens), frost grape (Vitis vulpina)
[105,124,175], western white clematis (Clematis
ligusticifolia) [124], poison-ivy [36,143,175], woodbine, American
vetch (Vicia americana), Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense), common
milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) [36], starry Solomon's seal (Maianthemum stellatum)
[83,84,143],
veiny meadowrue (Thalictrum venulosum), purple meadowrue (T.
dasycarpum) [83,84], smooth Solomon's seal (Polygonatum biflorum var. commutatum),
California nettle (Urtica dioica), heartleaf four o' clock (Mirabilis
nyctaginea), wild sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis)], creeping violet (Viola
canadensis var. rugulosa), fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium), moist sowthistle (Sonchus arvensis ssp. ulginosus),
smooth aster (Aster laevis), white panicle aster (Symphotrichum
lanceolatum ssp. lanceolatum), wild mint (Mentha
canadensis), common hop (Humulus americanus), Blue Ridge carrionflower (Smilax
lasioneura), hedge false bindweed (Calystegia sepium) [143], lambsquarters (Chenopodium album), poison hemlock (Conium
maculatum), curly dock (Rumex crispus) [175], common sunflower (Helianthus annuus), Chenopodium species,
and prickly
Russian-thistle (Salsola tragus) [4].

Classifications systems listing plains cottonwood is an indicator species or as
a dominant component of community types, habitat types, plant associations,
riparian site types, or dominance types are as follows:

Montana [92,93,94,95]

North Dakota [83,84,223]

Wyoming [162,207]

Manitoba [143]
Rio grade cottonwood:

Common tree associates of Rio Grande
cottonwood include
peachleaf willow [73,113], hybrid crack willow (Salix x rubens) [73],
Russian-olive, Goodding willow (Salix gooddingii)
[59,113], saltcedar (Tamarix
ramosissima) [59], and sandbar willow (Salix exigua) [113]. Understory species include mule's fat (Baccharis glutinosa), desert false indigo,
stretchberry (Forestiera neomexicana), screwbean mesquite (Prosopis
pubescens), and Torrey wolfberry (Lycium torreyi) [59,113].

Classifications systems listing Rio Grande cottonwood is an indicator species or
as a dominant component of community types, habitat types, plant associations,
or riparian site types are as follows:

Arizona [204]

New Mexico [53,116,204]

Texas [46,206]
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Habitat: Rangeland Cover Types

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following Rangeland Cover Types (as classified by the Society for Range Management, SRM):

More info for the term: cover

SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES [188]:

203 Riparian woodland

314 Big sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass

403 Wyoming big sagebrush

408 Other sagebrush types

412 Juniper-pinyon woodland

421 Chokecherry-serviceberry-rose

422 Riparian

501 Saltbush-greasewood

504 Juniper-pinyon pine woodland

601 Bluestem prairie

602 Bluestem-prairie sandreed

604 Bluestem-grama prairie

609 Wheatgrass-grama

610 Wheatgrass

611 Blue grama-buffalo grass

612 Sagebrush-grass

704 Blue grama-western wheatgrass

708 Bluestem-dropseed

709 Bluestem-grama

710 Bluestem prairie

715 Grama-buffalo grass

727 Mesquite-buffalo grass

729 Mesquite

801 Savanna

802 Missouri prairie

805 Riparian
  • 188. Shiflet, Thomas N., ed. 1994. Rangeland cover types of the United States. Denver, CO: Society for Range Management. 152 p. [23362]

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Habitat: Cover Types

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This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

More info for the term: cover

SAF COVER TYPES [64]:

39 Black ash-American elm-red maple

42 Bur oak

46 Eastern redcedar

61 River birch-sycamore

62 Silver maple-American elm

63 Cottonwood

92 Sweetgum-willow oak

93 Sugarberry-American elm-green ash

94 Sycamore-sweetgum-American elm

95 Black willow

109 Hawthorn

220 Rocky Mountain juniper

235 Cottonwood-willow

236 Bur oak

242 Mesquite
  • 64. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905]

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Habitat: Plant Associations

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This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS [136]:

K011 Western ponderosa forest

K016 Eastern ponderosa forest

K017 Black Hills pine forest

K023 Juniper-pinyon woodland

K027 Mesquite bosques

K038 Great Basin sagebrush

K055 Sagebrush steppe

K056 Wheatgrass-needlegrass shrubsteppe

K063 Foothills prairie

K064 Grama-needlegrass-wheatgrass

K065 Grama-buffalo grass

K066 Wheatgrass-needlegrass

K067 Wheatgrass-bluestem-needlegrass

K068 Wheatgrass-grama-buffalo grass

K069 Bluestem-grama prairie

K070 Sandsage-bluestem prairie

K074 Bluestem prairie

K081 Oak savanna

K085 Mesquite-buffalo grass

K088 Fayette prairie

K089 Black Belt

K098 Northern floodplain forest

K100 Oak-hickory forest

K101 Elm-ash forest

K104 Appalachian oak forest

K106 Northern hardwoods

K109 Transition between K104 and K106

K111 Oak-hickory-pine

K112 Southern mixed forest

K113 Southern floodplain forest
  • 136. Kuchler, A. W. 1964. United States [Potential natural vegetation of the conterminous United States]. Special Publication No. 36. New York: American Geographical Society. 1:3,168,000; colored. [3455]

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Habitat: Ecosystem

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This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

ECOSYSTEMS [76]:

FRES12 Longleaf-slash pine

FRES13 Loblolly-shortleaf pine

FRES14 Oak-pine

FRES15 Oak-hickory

FRES16 Oak-gum-cypress

FRES17 Elm-ash-cottonwood

FRES18 Maple-beech-birch

FRES19 Aspen-birch

FRES21 Ponderosa pine

FRES29 Sagebrush

FRES30 Desert shrub

FRES32 Texas savanna

FRES33 Southwestern shrubsteppe

FRES35 Pinyon-juniper

FRES36 Mountain grasslands

FRES38 Plains grasslands

FRES39 Prairie

FRES40 Desert grasslands

FRES41 Wet grasslands
  • 76. Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; [and others]. 1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 68 p. [998]

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Habitat characteristics

Eastern cottonwood primarily grows on the moist alluvial soil of floodplains and bottomlands [132,145,158,171,229]. It is also found in ravines [16,107,229], along disturbed streams [117], and in low spots of sandy uplands with a high water table [229]. It also found on batture lands, the unprotected areas between the Mississippi River and its levees [145].

Plains cottonwood is found on floodplains and small sandbars in the river beds or large bends where stream flow is dramatically retarded during high water. It is found next to springs that flow long enough to form ponds [4,130,173]. 

Across its range, eastern cottonwood is found from 255 to 6,500 feet (78-1,981 m) [10,12,37,165,169,187], usually 15 to 40 feet (5-12 m) above stream level [90,151,187]. Elevation ranges for plains and Rio Grande cottonwood are given in the following table:

Plains cottonwood References
CO 3,500 to 6,500 feet (1,067-1,981 m) [49,163,180]
MT 3,200 to 4,921 feet (975-1,500 m) [49,208]
NM 5,000 to 6,500 feet (1,524-1,981 m) [147]
UT 4,500 feet (1,372 m) [49]
WY 3,500 to 9,000 feet (1,067-2,743 m) [49,69,162]
Rio Grande cottonwood
AZ 4,000 to 6,500 feet (1,219-1,981 m) [56]
CO 4,000 to 7,000 feet (1,219-2,134 m) [49]
NM 1,457 to 6,500 feet (444-1,981 m) [113,147]
TX 2,800 to 5,000 feet (853-1,524 m) [49]

The average annual precipitation across the eastern cottonwood range is 13.78 to 55 inches (350-1,397 mm) [125,169]. Average annual precipitation ranges for some states where eastern cottonwood occurs is listed below:

IN 35 to 47 inches (889-1,193.8 mm) [141]
MI 33.86 inches (860 mm) [71]
OH 34 inches (863.6 mm) [18]
TX 14.96 to 33.07 inches (380-840 mm) [213,214]
ON 37 inches (939.8 mm) [234]

Eastern cottonwood occurs in a wide range of temperature regimes with extremes ranging from -49 degrees Fahrenheit (-45 oC) in winter to 114.8 degrees Fahrenheit (46 oC) in summer [125]. The mean annual temperature or annual temperature range for some states is as follows:

MI 48.2 degrees Fahrenheit (9 oC) [71]
OH 14.5 to 83.8 degrees Fahrenheit (-9.72-28.77 oC) [18]
TX 59.9 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5-19.44 oC) [213,214]
ON 46.4 degrees Fahrenheit (8 oC) [234]

The annual precipitation varies between 12 and 30 inches (305-762 mm), averaging less than 20 inches (508 mm) across most of the plains cottonwood range. The temperature can range between -50 degrees Fahrenheit (-45.56 oC) in January and 115 degrees Fahrenheit in July (46.11 oC) [173]. The average annual precipitation and temperature for some states in the plains cottonwood range are given in the table below [4,11,15,20,36,73,82,104,105,124,127,130,146,162,175,182,186,198,208,221,231]:

IN 35 to 47 inches (889-1,193.8 mm) [141]
MI 33.86 inches (860 mm) [71]
OH 34 inches (863.6 mm) [18]
TX 14.96 to 33.07 inches (380-840 mm) [213,214]
ON 37 inches (939.8 mm) [234]

Eastern cottonwood tolerates a wide range of soils ranging from coarse sands to clays but grows best on moist, well-drained fine sandy loams or silt [47,90,129,145,151,154,158].

Plains cottonwood is found on sandy soils [124,130] or well-drained soils with a high water table to supply year-round moisture [4]. Availability of moisture is reportedly more significant to plains cottonwood than soil texture or fertility [173].

  • 10. Bell, David T. 1974. Tree stratum composition and distribution in the streamside forest. The American Midland Naturalist. 92(1): 35-46. [10410]
  • 104. Hoffman, G. R.; Timken, R. L. 1970. Ecologic observations on Pinus ponderosa laws. (Pinaceae) at its eastern most extension in South Dakota. The Southwestern Naturalist. 14(3): 327-336. [11502]
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  • 107. Hopkins, Rick B. 1984. Avian species associated with prairie woodland types. In: Noble, Daniel L.; Winokur, Robert P., eds. Wooded draws: characteristics and values for the northern Great Plains: Proceedings of a symposium; 1984 June 12-13; Rapid City, SD. Great Plains Agricultural Council Publication No. 111. Rapid City, SD: South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Biology Department: 27-35. [1192]
  • 11. Bell, Elbert L.; Hulbert, Lloyd C. 1974. Effect of soil on occurrence of cross timbers and prairie in southern Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science. 77(4): 203-209. [24441]
  • 113. Howe, William H.; Knoff, Fritz L. 1991. On the imminent decline of Rio Grande cottonwoods in central New Mexico. The Southwestern Naturalist. 36(2): 218-224. [15697]
  • 117. Hupp, Cliff R. 1992. Riparian vegetation recovery patterns following stream channelization: a geomorphic perspective. Ecology. 73(4): 1209-1226. [19499]
  • 12. Bellah, R. Glenn; Hulbert, Lloyd C. 1974. Forest succession on the Republican River floodplain in Clay County, Kansas. The Southwestern Naturalist. 19(2): 155-166. [241]
  • 124. Johnson, W. Carter; Burgess, Robert L.; Keammerer, Warren R. 1976. Forest overstory vegetation and environment on the Missouri River floodplain in North Dakota. Ecological Monographs. 46(1): 59-84. [6313]
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  • 130. Keammerer, Warren R.; Johnson, W. Carter; Burgess, Robert L. 1975. Floristic analysis of the Missouri River bottomland forest in North Dakota. Canadian Field-Naturalist. 89: 5-19. [7447]
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  • 16. Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Girard, Michele. 1984. Wooded draws in rangelands of the northern Great Plains. In: Henderson, F. R., ed. Guidelines for increasing wildlife on farms and ranches: With ideas for supplemental income sources for rural families. Manhattan, KS: Kansas State University, Cooperative Extension Service; Great Plains Agricultural Council, Wildlife Resources Committee: 27B-36B. [4239]
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  • 163. Olson, Thomas E.; Knopf, Fritz L. 1988. Patterns of relative diversity within riparian small mammal communities, Platte River watershed, Colorado. In: Szaro, Robert C.; Severson, Kieth E.; Patton, David R., technical coordinators. Management of amphibians, reptiles, and small mammals in North America: Proceedings of the symposium; 1988 July 19-21; Flagstaff, AZ. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-166. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 379-386. [7126]
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  • 171. Putnam, John A. 1951. Management of bottomland hardwoods. Occasional Paper 116. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station. 60 p. [6748]
  • 173. Read, R. A. 1958. Silvical characteristics of plains cottonwood. Station Paper No. 33. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 18 p. [6298]
  • 175. Samson, Fred B.; Knopf, Fritz L.; Hass, Lisa B. 1988. Small mammal response to the introduction of cattle into a cottonwood floodplain. In: Szaro, Robert C.; Severson, Kieth E.; Patton, David R., technical coordinators. Management of amphibians, reptiles, and small mammals in North America: Proceedings of the symposium; 1988 July 19-21; Flagstaff, AZ. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-166. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 432-438. [7131]
  • 18. Boerner, Ralph E. J.; Cho, Do-Soon. 1987. Structure and composition of Goll Woods, an old-growth forest remnant in northwestern Ohio. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 114(2): 173-179. [8711]
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  • 20. Boggs, Keith Webster. 1984. Succession in riparian communities of the lower Yellowstone River, Montana. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 107 p. Thesis. [7245]
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  • 221. Wanek, Wallace James. 1967. The gallery forest vegetation of the Red River of the North. Fargo, ND: North Dakota State University. 190 p. Dissertation. [5733]
  • 229. Wilson, Roger E. 1970. Succession in stands of Populus deltoides along the Missouri River in southeastern South Dakota. The American Midland Naturalist. 83(2): 330-342. [25441]
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  • 37. Cote, Benoit; Dawson, Jeffery O. 1991. Autumnal allocation of phosphorus in black alder, eastern cottonwood, and white basswood. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 21: 217-221. [14142]
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Dispersal

Establishment

Natural regeneration of cottonwood is usually by seed. Propagation by cuttings is the usual method of vegetative reproduction. The best planting stock is unrooted cuttings from 1 to 3 year old seedlings. Cuttings are planted while dormant with sufficient cultivation to reduce competition.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS Plant Materials Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Associations

Faunal Associations

Eastern Cottonwood and similar species are an important food source of many insect species. The leaves are eaten by the caterpillars of the butterflies Limenitis archippus (Viceroy), Limenitis arthemis astyanax (Red-Spotted Purple), and Papilio glaucus (Tiger Swallowtail); they are also eaten by the caterpillars of the skipper Erynnis icelus (Dreamy Duskywing) and the caterpillars of many moth species (see Moth Table). Other insect feeders include many leaf beetles (see Leaf Beetle Table), larvae of long-horned beetles (see Long-Horned Beetle Table), larvae of the weevil Cryptorhynchus lapathi (Poplar-and-Willow Borer), aphids (see Aphid Table), plant bugs (Lopidea cuneata, Lygocoris hirticulus, & Tropidosteptes populi), the leafhopper Idiocerus lunaris, and larvae of the sawfly Trichiosoma triangulum. Many of these insects are important sources of food to insectivorous birds. Some birds feed on the buds and catkins during the spring when other sources of food are scarce; these species include the Ruffed Grouse, Prairie Chicken, and Purple Finch. Eastern Cottonwood provides nesting habitat for such birds as the Pileated Woodpecker (cavities in large trees), Baltimore Oriole, Warbling Vireo, Northern Parula, and Yellow Warbler (young trees). Some mammals also use Eastern Cottonwood as a food source. White-Tailed Deer browse on twigs and foliage of this tree, as does the Cottontail Rabbit when seedlings are within reach. Beavers use small trees as a source of food and also as construction material for their dens and dams. Like certain birds, tree squirrels sometimes eat the buds during the spring.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Flower-Visiting Insects of Eastern Cottonwood in Illinois

Populus deltoides (Eastern Cottonwood)
(honeybees collect pollen; this tree is wind-pollinated; observations are from Robertson and Krombein et al. as indicated below)

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera cp fq (Rb)

Bees (short-tongued)
Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena forbesii cp (Kr)

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General Ecology

Fire Management Considerations

More info for the term: natural

Prescribed fire is not recommended on bottomland forest sites in the north-central states where wood production is a primary management objective. Seedlings and young trees are easily killed by surface fires, while mature trees are often wounded. Wounded trees often contract heartrot, leading to substantial cull and volume loss [28]. Prescribed burning may stimulate sprouting and improve food supplies for wildlife species [183]. For optimum timber production, plantations must be completely protected from fire and grazing [28]. Fire prevention measures suggested for eastern cottonwood plantations include natural firebreaks (roads, trails, and sloughs) dividing stands into 40-acre (16 ha) blocks and plowed lines, at least 15 feet (4.6 m) wide [145]. To promote eastern cottonwood recovery, livestock should be excluded from burned areas for 5 years following fire and wildlife browsing should be monitored [95].
  • 145. Maisenhelder, Louis C. 1951. Planting and growing cottonwood on bottomlands. Bulletin 485. Mississippi State, MS: Mississippi State College, Agriculture Experiment Station. 23 p. [6294]
  • 183. Severson, Kieth E.; Boldt, Charles E. 1977. Problems associated with management of native woody plants in the western Dakotas. In: Johnson, Kendall L., editor. Wyoming shrublands: Proceedings, 6th Wyoming shrub ecology workshop; 1977 May 24-25; Buffalo, WY. Laramie, WY: Shrub Ecology Workshop: 51-57. [2759]
  • 28. Bull, Henry; Muntz, H. H. 1943. Planting cottonwood on bottomlands. Bulletin 391. Mississippi State, MS: Mississippi State College, Agricultural Experiment Station. 18 p. [7180]
  • 95. Hansen, Paul; Boggs, Keith; Pfister, Robert; Joy, John. 1990. Classification and management of riparian and wetland sites in central and eastern Montana. Missoula, MT: University of Montana, School of Forestry, Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station, Montana Riparian Association. 279 p. [12477]

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Plant Response to Fire

More info for the term: root crown

Top-killed eastern cottonwood may sprout from the roots, root crown, and/or bole following fire [183,184,190]. Although studies are few, sprouting response appears to be weak, and the long-term survivability of sprouts is poor [86]. Sprouting ability of eastern cottonwood declines with age [173]. In general, the ability of cottonwoods to sprout depends on (1) species (with those in section Tacamahaca sprouting more vigorously than those in section Aigeiros), (2) age (younger trees are more efficient), and (3) location of the water table (higher water tables increase sprout survivability) [86,95].

Plains cottonwood is a weak sprouter, and is especially susceptible to late summer and fall burns [95]. It does not readily form suckers [87,132]: Root and shoot sprouts are uncommon except for flood-trained shoot suckering [179].

  • 132. Kennedy, Harvey E., Jr. 1985. Cottonwood: An American wood. FS-231. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 8 p. [4072]
  • 173. Read, R. A. 1958. Silvical characteristics of plains cottonwood. Station Paper No. 33. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 18 p. [6298]
  • 179. Scott, Michael L.; Auble, Gregor T.; Friedman, Jonathan M. 1997. Flood dependancy of cottonwood establishment along the Missouri River, Montana, USA. Ecological Applications. 7(2): 677-690. [28708]
  • 183. Severson, Kieth E.; Boldt, Charles E. 1977. Problems associated with management of native woody plants in the western Dakotas. In: Johnson, Kendall L., editor. Wyoming shrublands: Proceedings, 6th Wyoming shrub ecology workshop; 1977 May 24-25; Buffalo, WY. Laramie, WY: Shrub Ecology Workshop: 51-57. [2759]
  • 184. Severson, Kieth E.; Boldt, Charles E. 1978. Cattle, wildlife, and riparian habitats in the western Dakotas. In: Management and use of northern plains rangeland: Regional rangeland symposium: Proceedings; 1978 February 27-28; Bismarck, ND. Dickinson, ND: North Dakota State University: 90-103. [65]
  • 190. Simpfendorfer, K. J. 1989. Trees, farms and fires. Land and Forests Bulletin No. 30. Victoria, Australia: Department of Conservation, Forests and Lands, Lands and Forests Division. 55 p. [10649]
  • 86. Gom, Lori A.; Rood, Stewart B. 1999. Fire induces clonal sprouting of riparian cottonwoods. Canadian Journal of Botany. 77(11): 1604-1616. [35953]
  • 87. Gom, Lori A.; Rood, Stewart B. 1999. The discrimination of cottonwood clones in a mature grove along the Oldman River in southern Alberta. Canadian Journal of Botany. 77(8): 1084-1094. [33062]
  • 95. Hansen, Paul; Boggs, Keith; Pfister, Robert; Joy, John. 1990. Classification and management of riparian and wetland sites in central and eastern Montana. Missoula, MT: University of Montana, School of Forestry, Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station, Montana Riparian Association. 279 p. [12477]

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Immediate Effect of Fire

Fire generally kills eastern cottonwood [3,22,86,87,132,145,158]. Mature trees with thick bark may be only scarred or top-killed [145,158]. Fire scars may facilitate onset of heartwood decay [28,145,158].
  • 132. Kennedy, Harvey E., Jr. 1985. Cottonwood: An American wood. FS-231. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 8 p. [4072]
  • 145. Maisenhelder, Louis C. 1951. Planting and growing cottonwood on bottomlands. Bulletin 485. Mississippi State, MS: Mississippi State College, Agriculture Experiment Station. 23 p. [6294]
  • 158. Myers, Charles C.; Buchman, Roland G. 1984. Manager's handbook for elm-ash-cottonwood in the North Central States. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-98. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 11 p. [8919]
  • 22. Braatne, Jeffrey H.; Rood, Stewart B.; Heilman, Paul E. 1996. Life history, ecology, and conservation of riparian cottonwoods in North America. In: Steller, R. F., ed. Biology of Populus and its implications for management and conservation. Ottawa, ON: National Research Council of Canada, NRC Research Press: 57-85. [29693]
  • 28. Bull, Henry; Muntz, H. H. 1943. Planting cottonwood on bottomlands. Bulletin 391. Mississippi State, MS: Mississippi State College, Agricultural Experiment Station. 18 p. [7180]
  • 3. Adams, Dwight E.; Anderson, Roger C.; Collins, Scott L. 1982. Differential response of woody and herbaceous species to summer and winter burning in an Oklahoma grassland. The Southwestern Naturalist. 27: 55-61. [6282]
  • 86. Gom, Lori A.; Rood, Stewart B. 1999. Fire induces clonal sprouting of riparian cottonwoods. Canadian Journal of Botany. 77(11): 1604-1616. [35953]
  • 87. Gom, Lori A.; Rood, Stewart B. 1999. The discrimination of cottonwood clones in a mature grove along the Oldman River in southern Alberta. Canadian Journal of Botany. 77(8): 1084-1094. [33062]

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Post-fire Regeneration

More info for the terms: adventitious, initial off-site colonizer, root sucker, tree

POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY [201]:
Tree with adventitious bud/root crown/soboliferous species root sucker
Initial off-site colonizer (off-site, initial community)
  • 201. Stickney, Peter F. 1989. Seral origin of species originating in northern Rocky Mountain forests. Unpublished draft on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; RWU 4403 files. 10 p. [20090]

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Fire Ecology

More info for the terms: fire frequency, frequency, mesic, root crown

Fire adaptations: Eastern cottonwood is a weak sprouter, and fire generally kills it [3,22,86,87,132,145,158]. It may sprout from the roots, root crown, or bole after fire [47,95,152,183], but sprouts are few and usually die. In a survey of postfire response of cottonwoods (Populus spp.) in Alberta, Gom and Rood [86] reported a "very poor" sprouting response for eastern cottonwood: few sprouts were produced, and most of those sprouts died. In their own study, conducted 5 months after "high-intensity" April wildfires on 2 Oldman River sites near Lethbridge, Alberta, 20% of damaged eastern cottonwood trunks produced sprouts, while 80% of damaged cottonwoods in the taxonomic section Tacamahaca produced sprouts. Five years after fire, only 10% of eastern cottonwood trunks damaged by fire still supported live sprouts.

FIRE REGIMES: In the Northern Great Plains, historic fire frequency was influenced by topography. Where plains cottonwoods occur along rivers, the fire frequency is estimated between 20 to 30 years [189]. These riparian areas burned less frequently than the surrounding uplands; fires skip over or only burn a portion [184]. Fires most likely occurred late in the growing season when the understory vegetation was cured enough to support a fire. In the mesic portions of the Northern Great Plains where eastern cottonwood occurs, the average fire return interval is 1 to 5 years [189].

In the southern United States, "serious" fire seasons occur every 5 to 8 years. The fire season is usually in the fall, except in years with a dry, early spring [171].

FIRE REGIMES for plant communities and ecosystems in which eastern, plains, and Rio Grande cottonwood occur are summarized below. For further information regarding FIRE REGIMES and fire ecology of these communities and ecosystems, see the 'Fire Ecology and Adaptations' section of the FEIS species summary for the plant community or ecosystem dominants listed below.

Community or Ecosystem Dominant Species Fire Return Interval Range (years)
silver maple-American elm Acer saccharinum-Ulmus americana 218]
bluestem prairie Andropogon gerardii var. gerardii-Schizachyrium scoparium 135,164]
Nebraska sandhills prairie Andropogon gerardii var. paucipilus-Schizachyrium scoparium
sagebrush steppe Artemisia tridentata/Pseudoroegneria spicata 20-70 [164]
Wyoming big sagebrush Artemisia tridentata var. wyomingensis 10-70 (40**) [215,233]
plains grasslands Bouteloua spp.
blue grama-buffalo grass Bouteloua gracilis-Buchloe dactyloides
cheatgrass Bromus tectorum 164]
sugarberry-America elm-green ash Celtis laevigata-Ulmus americana-Fraxinus pennsylvanica 218]
northern cordgrass prairie Distichlis spicata-Spartina spp. 1-3 [164]
beech-sugar maple Fagus spp.-Acer saccharum > 1000
black ash Fraxinus nigra 218]
Rocky Mountain juniper Juniperus scopulorum
wheatgrass plains grasslands Pascopyrum smithii
pinyon-juniper Pinus-Juniperus spp. 164]
longleaf-slash pine Pinus palustris-P. elliottii 1-4 [159,218]
loblolly-shortleaf pine Pinus taeda-P. echinata 10 to
sycamore-sweetgum-American elm Platanus occidentalis-Liquidambar styraciflua-Ulmus americana 218]
eastern cottonwood Populus deltoides 5 to 200 [164,171,189]
mesquite Prosopis glandulosa
mesquite-buffalo grass Prosopis glandulosa-Buchloe dactyloides
Texas savanna Prosopis glandulosa var. glandulosa 164]
mountain grasslands Pseudoroegneria spicata 3-40 (10**) [5,6]
oak-hickory Quercus-Carya spp. 218]
oak-juniper woodland (Southwest) Quercus-Juniperus spp. 164]
white oak-black oak-northern red oak Quercus alba-Q. velutina-Q. rubra
bur oak Quercus macrocarpa
oak savanna Quercus macrocarpa/Andropogon gerardii-Schizachyrium scoparium 2-14 [164,218]
chestnut oak Q. prinus 3-8
northern red oak Quercus rubra 10 to
black oak Quercus velutina 218]
elm-ash-cottonwood Ulmus-Fraxinus-Populus spp. < 35 to 200 [52,218]
*fire return interval varies widely; trends in variation are noted in the species summary
**mean

  • 132. Kennedy, Harvey E., Jr. 1985. Cottonwood: An American wood. FS-231. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 8 p. [4072]
  • 145. Maisenhelder, Louis C. 1951. Planting and growing cottonwood on bottomlands. Bulletin 485. Mississippi State, MS: Mississippi State College, Agriculture Experiment Station. 23 p. [6294]
  • 152. Miller, Melanie. 2000. Fire autecology. In: Brown, James K.; Smith, Jane Kapler, eds. Wildland fire in ecosystems: Effects of fire on flora. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-42-vol. 2. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station: 9-34. [36981]
  • 158. Myers, Charles C.; Buchman, Roland G. 1984. Manager's handbook for elm-ash-cottonwood in the North Central States. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-98. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 11 p. [8919]
  • 159. Myers, Ronald L. 2000. Fire in tropical and subtropical ecosystems. In: Brown, James K.; Smith, Jane Kapler, eds. Wildland fire in ecosystems: Effects of fire on flora. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-42-vol. 2. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station: 161-173. [36985]
  • 164. Paysen, Timothy E.; Ansley, R. James; Brown, James K.; [and others]. 2000. Fire in western shrubland, woodland, and grassland ecosystems. In: Brown, James K.; Smith, Jane Kapler, eds. Wildland fire in ecosystems: Effects of fire on flora. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-42-volume 2. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station: 121-159. [36978]
  • 171. Putnam, John A. 1951. Management of bottomland hardwoods. Occasional Paper 116. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station. 60 p. [6748]
  • 183. Severson, Kieth E.; Boldt, Charles E. 1977. Problems associated with management of native woody plants in the western Dakotas. In: Johnson, Kendall L., editor. Wyoming shrublands: Proceedings, 6th Wyoming shrub ecology workshop; 1977 May 24-25; Buffalo, WY. Laramie, WY: Shrub Ecology Workshop: 51-57. [2759]
  • 184. Severson, Kieth E.; Boldt, Charles E. 1978. Cattle, wildlife, and riparian habitats in the western Dakotas. In: Management and use of northern plains rangeland: Regional rangeland symposium: Proceedings; 1978 February 27-28; Bismarck, ND. Dickinson, ND: North Dakota State University: 90-103. [65]
  • 189. Sieg, Carolyn Hull. 1997. The role of fire in managing for biological diversity on native rangelands of the Northern Great Plains. In: Uresk, Daniel W.; Schenbeck, Greg L.; O'Rourke, James T., tech. coords. Conserving biodiversity on native rangelands: symposium proceedings; 1995 August 17; Fort Robinson State Park, NE. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-GTR-298. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 31-38. [28054]
  • 215. Vincent, Dwain W. 1992. The sagebrush/grasslands of the upper Rio Puerco area, New Mexico. Rangelands. 14(5): 268-271. [19698]
  • 218. Wade, Dale D.; Brock, Brent L.; Brose, Patrick H.; [and others]. 2000. Fire in eastern ecosystems. In: Brown, James K.; Smith, Jane Kapler, eds. Wildland fire in ecosystems: Effects of fire on flora. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-42-vol. 2. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station: 53-96. [36983]
  • 22. Braatne, Jeffrey H.; Rood, Stewart B.; Heilman, Paul E. 1996. Life history, ecology, and conservation of riparian cottonwoods in North America. In: Steller, R. F., ed. Biology of Populus and its implications for management and conservation. Ottawa, ON: National Research Council of Canada, NRC Research Press: 57-85. [29693]
  • 233. Young, James A.; Evans, Raymond A. 1981. Demography and fire history of a western juniper stand. Journal of Range Management. 34(6): 501-505. [2659]
  • 3. Adams, Dwight E.; Anderson, Roger C.; Collins, Scott L. 1982. Differential response of woody and herbaceous species to summer and winter burning in an Oklahoma grassland. The Southwestern Naturalist. 27: 55-61. [6282]
  • 47. Dickmann, Donald I.; Stuart, Katherine W. 1983. The culture of poplars in eastern North America. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University, Department of Forestry. 168 p. [6317]
  • 5. Arno, Stephen F. 1980. Forest fire history in the Northern Rockies. Journal of Forestry. 78(8): 460-465. [11990]
  • 52. Duchesne, Luc C.; Hawkes, Brad C. 2000. Fire in northern ecosystems. In: Brown, James K.; Smith, Jane Kapler, eds. Wildland fire in ecosystems: Effects of fire on flora. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-42-vol. 2. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station: 35-51. [36982]
  • 6. Arno, Stephen F. 2000. Fire in western forest ecosystems. In: Brown, James K.; Smith, Jane Kapler, eds. Wildland fire in ecosystems: Effects of fire on flora. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-42-vol. 2. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station: 97-120. [36984]
  • 86. Gom, Lori A.; Rood, Stewart B. 1999. Fire induces clonal sprouting of riparian cottonwoods. Canadian Journal of Botany. 77(11): 1604-1616. [35953]
  • 87. Gom, Lori A.; Rood, Stewart B. 1999. The discrimination of cottonwood clones in a mature grove along the Oldman River in southern Alberta. Canadian Journal of Botany. 77(8): 1084-1094. [33062]
  • 95. Hansen, Paul; Boggs, Keith; Pfister, Robert; Joy, John. 1990. Classification and management of riparian and wetland sites in central and eastern Montana. Missoula, MT: University of Montana, School of Forestry, Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station, Montana Riparian Association. 279 p. [12477]

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Successional Status

More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: formation, frequency, succession

Eastern cottonwood is shade intolerant [9,47,151,171,217,225] and a pioneer species that typically establishes on freshly exposed alluvium of sandbars, streambanks, and other floodplain sites [16,23,103,117,124,150,222]. Establishment and dominance may also occur after sandbar willows have stabilized the site [229]. Eastern cottonwood invades unburned prairies in Kansas [1] and old fields and upland sites in the lake states [47,111].

Maintenance of seral, eastern cottonwood-dominated communities depends on either periodic flooding or timber harvest [23,92,155,158]. In the Great Plains, dams and reservoirs which alter the magnitude and frequency of floods, sedimentation rates, and stream meander migration rates have detrimentally affected cottonwood communities by reducing seedling recruitment and survival [23]. In the absence of flooding, succession proceeds, and the shade-intolerant cottonwoods are eventually replaced by more shade-tolerant species [155]. Eastern cottonwood stands are replaced by American elm, sycamore, pecan, sugarberry, boxelder, and sweetgum [103]. The eastern cottonwood/Rocky Mountain juniper community type is an early successional stage in North Dakota. It succeeds to the green ash/western snowberry community if left undisturbed [83].

Plains cottonwood with willow and boxelder represents an early stage on floodplains in Nebraska [4].  The plains cottonwood-willow type progresses to the plains cottonwood-green ash type in North Dakota [124]. It contributes significantly to dune formation on Lake Michigan [38].

  • 1. Abrams, Marc D.; Gibson, David J. 1991. Effects of fire exclusion on tallgrass prairie and gallery forest communities in eastern Kansas. In: Nodvin, Stephen C.; Waldrop, Thomas A., eds. Fire and the environment: ecological and cultural perspectives: Proceedings of an international symposium; 1990 March 20-24; Knoxville, TN. Gen. Tech. Rep. SE-69. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station: 3-10. [16627]
  • 103. Hodges, John D.; Switzer, George L. 1979. Some aspects of the ecology of southern bottomland hardwoods. In: North America's forests: gateway to opportunity: Proceedings, 1978 joint convention of the Society of American Foresters and the Canadian Institute of Forestry. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters: 360-365. [10028]
  • 111. Hosner, John F.; Minckler, L. S. 1960. Hardwood reproduction in the river bottoms of southern Illinois. Forest Science. 6(1): 67-77. [3738]
  • 117. Hupp, Cliff R. 1992. Riparian vegetation recovery patterns following stream channelization: a geomorphic perspective. Ecology. 73(4): 1209-1226. [19499]
  • 124. Johnson, W. Carter; Burgess, Robert L.; Keammerer, Warren R. 1976. Forest overstory vegetation and environment on the Missouri River floodplain in North Dakota. Ecological Monographs. 46(1): 59-84. [6313]
  • 150. Meadows, James S.; Nowacki, Gregory J. 1996. An old-growth definition for eastern riverfront forests. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-4. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 7 p. [29708]
  • 151. Merz, Robert W., compiler. 1978. Forest atlas of the Midwest. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, National Forest System, Cooperative Forestry, Forestry Research. 48 p. [10057]
  • 155. Minckley, W. L.; Brown, David E. 1982. Wetlands. In: Brown, David E., ed. Biotic communities of the American Southwest--United States and Mexico. Desert Plants. 4(1-4): 223-287. [8898]
  • 158. Myers, Charles C.; Buchman, Roland G. 1984. Manager's handbook for elm-ash-cottonwood in the North Central States. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-98. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 11 p. [8919]
  • 16. Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Girard, Michele. 1984. Wooded draws in rangelands of the northern Great Plains. In: Henderson, F. R., ed. Guidelines for increasing wildlife on farms and ranches: With ideas for supplemental income sources for rural families. Manhattan, KS: Kansas State University, Cooperative Extension Service; Great Plains Agricultural Council, Wildlife Resources Committee: 27B-36B. [4239]
  • 171. Putnam, John A. 1951. Management of bottomland hardwoods. Occasional Paper 116. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station. 60 p. [6748]
  • 217. Vogel, Willis G. 1981. A guide for revegetating coal minespoils in the eastern United States. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-68. Broomall, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 190 p. [15577]
  • 222. Ware, George H.; Penfound, W. T. 1949. The vegetation of the lower levels of the floodplain of the South Canadian River in central Oklahoma. Ecology. 30: 478-484. [6004]
  • 225. Wells, Philip V. 1976. A climax index for broadleaf forest: an n-dimensional, ecomorphological model of succession. In: Fralish, James S.; Weaver, George T.; Schlesinger, Richard C., eds. Central hardwood forest conference: Proceedings of a meeting; 1976 October 17-19; Carbondale, IL. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University: 131-175. [3814]
  • 229. Wilson, Roger E. 1970. Succession in stands of Populus deltoides along the Missouri River in southeastern South Dakota. The American Midland Naturalist. 83(2): 330-342. [25441]
  • 23. Bradley, Cheryl E.; Smith, Derald G. 1986. Plains cottonwood recruitment and survival on a prairie meandering river floodplain, Milk River, southern Alberta and northern Montana. Canadian Journal of Botany. 64: 1433-1442. [8920]
  • 38. Cowles, Henry Chandler. 1899. The ecological relations of the vegetation on the sand dunes of Lake Michigan. Botanical Gazette. 27(2-3): 95-117, 167-202. [11091]
  • 4. Albertson, F. W.; Weaver, J. E. 1945. Injury and death or recovery of trees in prairie climate. Ecological Monographs. 15: 393-433. [4328]
  • 47. Dickmann, Donald I.; Stuart, Katherine W. 1983. The culture of poplars in eastern North America. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University, Department of Forestry. 168 p. [6317]
  • 83. Girard, Michele M.; Goetz, Harold; Bjugstad, Ardell J. 1989. Native woodland habitat types of southwestern North Dakota. Res. Pap. RM-281. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 36 p. [6319]
  • 9. Behan, Mark. 1981. The Missouri's stately cottonwoods: How can we save them? Montana Magazine. September: 76-77. [6284]
  • 92. Hansen, Paul L.; Boggs, Keith; Pfister, Robert D.; [and others]. 1994. Classification and management of riparian and wetland sites in Montana. In: Hamre, R. H., ed. Workshop on western wetlands and riparian areas: public/private efforts in recovery, management, and education: Proceedings; 1993 September 9-11; Snowbird, UT. Boulder, CO: Thorne Ecological Institute: 1-17. [27800]

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Regeneration Processes

More info for the terms: formation, natural, top-kill, tree

Eastern cottonwood regenerates sexually and vegetatively.

Sexual reproduction: Large seed crops (25 to 28 million seeds/tree/year) [9,22,129] dispersed by wind and water over long distances, are generally produced annually once the trees reach 10 to 15 years of age [9,22,47,132,142,158,173,221,225].

There is no seed dormancy in eastern cottonwood [227,228]. Germination occurs as soon as seeds arrive on a seedbed that is moist, free of vegetation, and in full sunlight [9,23,67,132,173,181]. Seeds are highly viable at dispersal [66,124], but viability decreases rapidly in the absence of a suitable germination environment [66]. Under natural conditions, seeds remain viable for 1 to 2 weeks [22]. Suitable recruitment sites occur naturally as a result of spring flooding [156,173] and scouring by ice [9]. Receding floodwaters leave freshly deposited, exposed alluvium, and seed germination along prairie river floodplains often occurs exclusively on these sites [124,229]. Exposed soil is essential, as young seedlings do not compete well with overtopping vegetation [34,124,171].

Vegetative reproduction: Cottonwood species (Populus spp.) reproduce vegetatively by sprouting from stumps and root crowns, and by the formation of suckers (adventitious shoots on roots ) [47,176,229]. There is asexual reproduction from broken limbs (flood training) and crown breakage [22]. The ability of cottonwoods to sprout declines with age [173].  Cottonwoods in the Aigeiros section of Populus, including eastern cottonwood, do not sprout as readily as cottonwoods in section Tacamahaca. Eastern cottonwood sprouts from the roots and bole after top-kill or damage, but the response is weak [22,86]. Most  suckers arise from suppressed buds embedded in the periderm of undisturbed roots after death or injury of aboveground parts. There is disagreement on the ability or eastern cottonwood to sprout from the bole after being cut [47,154].

Plains cottonwood does not readily form suckers or stem sprouts [87,132], and sprouting is uncommon except in flood-trained shoots [23,86,179]. 

Growth: Eastern cottonwood is the fastest growing native tree in North America [28,47,121,132,212]. It commonly increases 0.7 to 1 inch  (1.69-2.54 cm) in diameter and 5 feet (1.5 m) in height annually up to 10 to 15 years of age, and grows at only a slightly slower rate up to 30 to 35 years of age [28]. In the Mississippi valley, eastern cottonwood can reach 20 inches (50.8 cm) in diameter at breast height and 120 feet (36.6 m) in height at 35 years [28,145].

Growth of young seedlings is rapid [132]. The first 3 weeks of development of seedlings are slow, after which the growth rate rapidly accelerates [145]. Root growth of seedlings is also rapid. Seedlings have been observed to extend taproots 12 to 16 inches (30.5-40.6 cm) and lateral roots 24 inches (61 cm) by the end of their first growing season [222]. These roots serve as anchorage during floods and help to ensure a supply of water during dry periods.

Once established, seedlings are susceptible to damage from flooding. In one instance, 8 days of complete inundation weakened all seedlings, while 16 days resulted in their mortality [112]. Seedlings can survive if flooded less than 50% of the growing season [158]. Inundation does not necessarily have a detrimental effect upon germination [108].

  • 108. Hosner, John F. 1957. Effects of water upon the seed germination of bottomland trees. Forest Science. 3(1): 67-70. [6289]
  • 112. Hosner, John F.; Minckler, Leon S. 1963. Bottomland hardwood forests of southern Illinois--regeneration and succession. Ecology. 44(1): 29-41. [3739]
  • 121. Johnson, R. L.; Shropshire, F. W. 1983. Bottomland hardwoods. In: Burns, Russell M., tech. comp. Silvicultural systems for the major forest types of the United States. Agric. Handb. 445. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 175-179. [18953]
  • 124. Johnson, W. Carter; Burgess, Robert L.; Keammerer, Warren R. 1976. Forest overstory vegetation and environment on the Missouri River floodplain in North Dakota. Ecological Monographs. 46(1): 59-84. [6313]
  • 129. Kaul, Robert B. 1995. Reproductive structure and organogenesis in a cottonwood, Populus deltoides (Salicaceae) International Journal of Plant Science. 156(2): 172-180. [29769]
  • 132. Kennedy, Harvey E., Jr. 1985. Cottonwood: An American wood. FS-231. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 8 p. [4072]
  • 142. Loehle, Craig. 1988. Tree life history strategies: the role of defenses. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 18(2): 209-222. [4421]
  • 145. Maisenhelder, Louis C. 1951. Planting and growing cottonwood on bottomlands. Bulletin 485. Mississippi State, MS: Mississippi State College, Agriculture Experiment Station. 23 p. [6294]
  • 154. Minckler, Leon S. 1958. Bottomland hardwoods respond to cutting. Tech. Pap. 164. Columbus, OH: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Central States Forest Experiment Station. 10 p. [5514]
  • 156. Morris, R. C.; Filer, T. H.; Solomon, J. D.; [and others]. 1975. Insects and diseases of cottonwood. Gen. Tech. Rep. SO-8. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station. 36 p. [6296]
  • 158. Myers, Charles C.; Buchman, Roland G. 1984. Manager's handbook for elm-ash-cottonwood in the North Central States. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-98. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 11 p. [8919]
  • 171. Putnam, John A. 1951. Management of bottomland hardwoods. Occasional Paper 116. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station. 60 p. [6748]
  • 173. Read, R. A. 1958. Silvical characteristics of plains cottonwood. Station Paper No. 33. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 18 p. [6298]
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  • 212. Uddin, M. Rafique; Meyer, Martin M., Jr.; Jokela, J. J. 1988. Plantlet production from anthers of eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides). Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 18: 937-941. [5422]
  • 22. Braatne, Jeffrey H.; Rood, Stewart B.; Heilman, Paul E. 1996. Life history, ecology, and conservation of riparian cottonwoods in North America. In: Steller, R. F., ed. Biology of Populus and its implications for management and conservation. Ottawa, ON: National Research Council of Canada, NRC Research Press: 57-85. [29693]
  • 221. Wanek, Wallace James. 1967. The gallery forest vegetation of the Red River of the North. Fargo, ND: North Dakota State University. 190 p. Dissertation. [5733]
  • 222. Ware, George H.; Penfound, W. T. 1949. The vegetation of the lower levels of the floodplain of the South Canadian River in central Oklahoma. Ecology. 30: 478-484. [6004]
  • 225. Wells, Philip V. 1976. A climax index for broadleaf forest: an n-dimensional, ecomorphological model of succession. In: Fralish, James S.; Weaver, George T.; Schlesinger, Richard C., eds. Central hardwood forest conference: Proceedings of a meeting; 1976 October 17-19; Carbondale, IL. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University: 131-175. [3814]
  • 227. White, Peter S. 1979. Pattern, process, and natural disturbance in vegetation. Botanical Review. 45(3): 229-299. [7869]
  • 228. Williams, Robert D.; Hanks, Sidney H. 1976. Hardwood nurseryman's guide. Agric. Handb. 473. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 78 p. [4182]
  • 229. Wilson, Roger E. 1970. Succession in stands of Populus deltoides along the Missouri River in southeastern South Dakota. The American Midland Naturalist. 83(2): 330-342. [25441]
  • 23. Bradley, Cheryl E.; Smith, Derald G. 1986. Plains cottonwood recruitment and survival on a prairie meandering river floodplain, Milk River, southern Alberta and northern Montana. Canadian Journal of Botany. 64: 1433-1442. [8920]
  • 28. Bull, Henry; Muntz, H. H. 1943. Planting cottonwood on bottomlands. Bulletin 391. Mississippi State, MS: Mississippi State College, Agricultural Experiment Station. 18 p. [7180]
  • 34. Carter, Mason C.; White, E. H. 1971. The necessity for intensive cultural treatment in cottonwood plantations. Circular 189. Auburn, AL: Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station. 11 p. [7177]
  • 47. Dickmann, Donald I.; Stuart, Katherine W. 1983. The culture of poplars in eastern North America. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University, Department of Forestry. 168 p. [6317]
  • 66. Farmer, R. E., Jr.; Bonner, F. T. 1967. Germination and initial growth of eastern cottonwood as influenced by moisture stress, temperature, and storage. Botanical Gazette. 128(3-4): 211-215. [6287]
  • 67. Farmer, Robert E. Jr. 1964. Sex ratio and sex-related characteristics in eastern cottonwood. Silvae Genetica. 13: 116-118. [6306]
  • 86. Gom, Lori A.; Rood, Stewart B. 1999. Fire induces clonal sprouting of riparian cottonwoods. Canadian Journal of Botany. 77(11): 1604-1616. [35953]
  • 87. Gom, Lori A.; Rood, Stewart B. 1999. The discrimination of cottonwood clones in a mature grove along the Oldman River in southern Alberta. Canadian Journal of Botany. 77(8): 1084-1094. [33062]
  • 9. Behan, Mark. 1981. The Missouri's stately cottonwoods: How can we save them? Montana Magazine. September: 76-77. [6284]

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Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)

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More info for the term: phanerophyte

RAUNKIAER  LIFE FORM [172]:
Phanerophyte
  • 172. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843]

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Life Form

More info for the term: tree

Tree

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Broad-scale Impacts of Plant Response to Fire

In an Oklahoma study, all eastern cottonwood seedlings and saplings were
eliminated following a fire in June. One year later no regeneration was observed
[3].

The Research Paper by Bowles and others 2007 provides information on postfire responses of several plant species, including eastern cottonwood, that was not available when this species review was written.

  • 3. Adams, Dwight E.; Anderson, Roger C.; Collins, Scott L. 1982. Differential response of woody and herbaceous species to summer and winter burning in an Oklahoma grassland. The Southwestern Naturalist. 27: 55-61. [6282]

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

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Time of flowering and leaf emergence for eastern cottonwood varies according to geographic location. Eastern cottonwood flowers during early to late spring, generally from February through May [22,47,68,147,228] and 1 to 2 weeks before leaf initiation [22]. Seed dispersal occurs in early summer [47].  Seed dispersal and germination generally occur in late spring to early- or mid-summer and typically coincide with decreasing flow levels (May through August) [9,22,40,66,181]. Phenological dates for some states and the Great Plains are given below:

Location Flowering References Fruiting References Seed dispersal References
Eastern cottonwood            
AR March-May [115] May-June [115] ---- ----
GA April-May [230] ---- ---- ---- ----
MS ---- ---- May-August [122] ---- ----
NE April [129] ---- ---- ---- ----
OK March [222] May-June [222] May-June [222]
WV April-May [203] ---- ---- ---- ----
Plains cottonwood            
Great Plains March-June [88,147,199] May-July [88,199] ---- ----
  • 115. Hunter, Carl G. 1989. Trees, shrubs, and vines of Arkansas. Little Rock, AR: The Ozark Society Foundation. 207 p. [21266]
  • 122. Johnson, Robert L. 1965. Regenerating cottonwood from natural seedfall. Journal of Forestry. 63(1): 33-36. [6290]
  • 129. Kaul, Robert B. 1995. Reproductive structure and organogenesis in a cottonwood, Populus deltoides (Salicaceae) International Journal of Plant Science. 156(2): 172-180. [29769]
  • 147. Martin, William C.; Hutchins, Charles R. 1981. A flora of New Mexico. Volume 1. Germany: J. Cramer. 647 p. [37175]
  • 181. Segelquist, Charles A.; Scott, Michael L.; Auble, Gregor T. 1993. Establishment of Populus deltoides under simulated alluvial groundwater declines. The American Midland Naturalist. 130(2): 274-285. [29823]
  • 199. Stephens, H. A. 1973. Woody plants of the North Central Plains. Lawrence, KS: The University Press of Kansas. 530 p. [3804]
  • 203. Strausbaugh, P. D.; Core, Earl L. 1977. Flora of West Virginia. 2nd ed. Morgantown, WV: Seneca Books, Inc. 1079 p. [23213]
  • 22. Braatne, Jeffrey H.; Rood, Stewart B.; Heilman, Paul E. 1996. Life history, ecology, and conservation of riparian cottonwoods in North America. In: Steller, R. F., ed. Biology of Populus and its implications for management and conservation. Ottawa, ON: National Research Council of Canada, NRC Research Press: 57-85. [29693]
  • 222. Ware, George H.; Penfound, W. T. 1949. The vegetation of the lower levels of the floodplain of the South Canadian River in central Oklahoma. Ecology. 30: 478-484. [6004]
  • 228. Williams, Robert D.; Hanks, Sidney H. 1976. Hardwood nurseryman's guide. Agric. Handb. 473. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 78 p. [4182]
  • 230. Wofford, B. Eugene. 1989. Guide to the vascular plants of the Blue Ridge. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 384 p. [12908]
  • 40. Crouch, Glenn L. 1979. Long-term changes in cottonwoods on a grazed and an ungrazed plains bottomland in northeastern Colorado. Res. Note RM-370. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 4 p. [3496]
  • 47. Dickmann, Donald I.; Stuart, Katherine W. 1983. The culture of poplars in eastern North America. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University, Department of Forestry. 168 p. [6317]
  • 66. Farmer, R. E., Jr.; Bonner, F. T. 1967. Germination and initial growth of eastern cottonwood as influenced by moisture stress, temperature, and storage. Botanical Gazette. 128(3-4): 211-215. [6287]
  • 68. Farmer, Robert E., Jr.; Pitcher, John A. 1981. Pollen handling for southern hardwoods. In: Pollen management handbook. Agric. Handb. 587. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 77-83. [12654]
  • 88. Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. 1392 p. [1603]
  • 9. Behan, Mark. 1981. The Missouri's stately cottonwoods: How can we save them? Montana Magazine. September: 76-77. [6284]

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Populus deltoides

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Populus deltoides

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 16
Specimens with Barcodes: 23
Species With Barcodes: 1
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Reasons: Throughout United States and Canada, east of continental divide. Dominant or co-dominant component of floodplain and bottomland hardwood forests (Taylor 2001).

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More info for the term: series

In Texas, the cottonwood-tallgrass series is listed as "imperiled globally, very rare, 6 to 20 occurrences (endangered throughout range); imperiled in Texas, very rare, vulnerable to extirpation, 6 to 20 occurrences" [206].
  • 206. Texas Natural Heritage Program. 1993. Plant communities of Texas (Series level). Unpublished report. Austin, TX: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. 26 p. [23810]

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Status

Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status (e.g. threatened or endangered species, state noxious status, and wetland indicator values).

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USDA NRCS Plant Materials Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Threats

Pests and potential problems

Eastern cottonwood can be seriously damaged by wood boring insects that attacks the main stem, branches and root system. Many leaf feeding insects can also reduce the growth and vigor of young trees. Leaf rust, leaf spot, and cankers reduce tree vigor and growth and in severe cases cause tree mortality.

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Management

Management considerations

More info for the terms: fire frequency, frequency, natural, selection

Eastern cottonwood seedlings are highly susceptible to grazing and
trampling damage from wildlife and domestic livestock. Control measures
generally must be taken, particularly on plantations, for successful
establishment and growth [9,40,47,145]. These can
include the selection of certain
clones that may be somewhat less palatable, weed control, use of repellent
materials, fencing, and direct control of the animals [47]. Eastern
cottonwood should not be planted next to European
alder (Alnus glutinosa) [168] or Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila) in shelterbelts,
because it will be shaded and mortality occurs within 10 years [191].

Strips or buffer zones of eastern cottonwood stands immediately adjacent to
streams and rivers are effective for erosion control [96].
In the Great Plains region, recruitment and survival of plains cottonwood has
been adversely affected by the construction of dams and reservoirs. Changes in
magnitude and frequency of floods, rates of sedimentation, and rates of meander
migration contribute to the reduction of suitable recruitment sites [23,124].
Periodic large releases of reservoir water to simulate natural flooding are
recommended to ensure vigorous recruitment and growth of cottonwood forests on
prairie river floodplains [23]. Flooding also decreases litter
accumulation and can reduce the threat of fire [59]. In Colorado, moderately high
flows that occur every 5 years are required to create the new point bars where plains cottonwood
establishes [72]. Seedlings will establish close to the edges of river channels,
but will probably not survive future ice jams and high discharges. The long-term
survival of seedlings established during flood-free periods
is greater the higher above stream channel they are established [179]. See black cottonwood for further information on the effects of watercourse damming and
stream diversion on plains and other cottonwoods.
Disease and insect pests that affect eastern cottonwood have been described by
several authors [28,44,156,173,195].
Russian-olive and saltcedar have invaded many riparian woodlands across the
Great Plains and southwestern United States dominated by cottonwoods (Populus
spp.) and willows. The invaders have displaced the
native vegetation, taken up water, and increased fire frequency [137,185,197].
Russian-olive and saltcedar provide habitat for some wildlife species [137,185].
However, the loss of larger trees, especially eastern cottonwoods, has led to a
decrease in habitat for cavity-nesting birds [185].
  • 124. Johnson, W. Carter; Burgess, Robert L.; Keammerer, Warren R. 1976. Forest overstory vegetation and environment on the Missouri River floodplain in North Dakota. Ecological Monographs. 46(1): 59-84. [6313]
  • 137. Larmer, Paul. 1998. Tackling tamarisk. High Country News. 30(10): 1, 8-10, 15. [29108]
  • 145. Maisenhelder, Louis C. 1951. Planting and growing cottonwood on bottomlands. Bulletin 485. Mississippi State, MS: Mississippi State College, Agriculture Experiment Station. 23 p. [6294]
  • 156. Morris, R. C.; Filer, T. H.; Solomon, J. D.; [and others]. 1975. Insects and diseases of cottonwood. Gen. Tech. Rep. SO-8. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station. 36 p. [6296]
  • 168. Plass, W. T. 1977. Growth and survival of hardwoods and pine interplanted with European alder. Res. Pap. NE-376. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeast Forest Experiment Station. 10 p. [6297]
  • 173. Read, R. A. 1958. Silvical characteristics of plains cottonwood. Station Paper No. 33. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 18 p. [6298]
  • 179. Scott, Michael L.; Auble, Gregor T.; Friedman, Jonathan M. 1997. Flood dependancy of cottonwood establishment along the Missouri River, Montana, USA. Ecological Applications. 7(2): 677-690. [28708]
  • 185. Shafroth, Patrick B.; Auble, Gregor T.; Scott, Michael L. 1995. Germination and establishment of the native plains cottonwood (Populus deltoides ssp. monilifera) and the exotic Russian-olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia L.). Conservation Biology. 9(5): 1169-1175. [26012]
  • 191. Slabaugh, P. E. 1965. A reappraisal of some silvicultural problems of Great Plains shelterbelts. In: Proceedings: Society of American Foresters meeting; 1964 September 27 - October 1; Denver, CO. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters: 23-27. [12081]
  • 195. Solomon, J. D. 1980. Cottonwood borer (Plectorodera scalator)--a guide to its biology, damage, and control. Res. Pap. SO-157. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station. 10 p. [6324]
  • 197. Sprenger, Matthew D.; Smith, Loren M.; Taylor, John P. 1998. Restoration of riparian habitat in the Middle Rio Grande Valley. Research highlights - 1998: Noxious brush and weed control: Range, wildlife, & fisheries management. 29: 20. [29980]
  • 23. Bradley, Cheryl E.; Smith, Derald G. 1986. Plains cottonwood recruitment and survival on a prairie meandering river floodplain, Milk River, southern Alberta and northern Montana. Canadian Journal of Botany. 64: 1433-1442. [8920]
  • 28. Bull, Henry; Muntz, H. H. 1943. Planting cottonwood on bottomlands. Bulletin 391. Mississippi State, MS: Mississippi State College, Agricultural Experiment Station. 18 p. [7180]
  • 40. Crouch, Glenn L. 1979. Long-term changes in cottonwoods on a grazed and an ungrazed plains bottomland in northeastern Colorado. Res. Note RM-370. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 4 p. [3496]
  • 44. Davidson, A. G.; Prentice, R. M. 1968. Insects and diseases. In: Maini, J. S.; Cayford, J. H., eds. Growth and utilization of poplars in Canada. Departmental Publication No. 1205. Ottawa, ON: Department of Forestry and Rural Development: 116-144. [6505]
  • 47. Dickmann, Donald I.; Stuart, Katherine W. 1983. The culture of poplars in eastern North America. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University, Department of Forestry. 168 p. [6317]
  • 59. Ellis, Lisa M.; Crawford, Clifford S.; Molles, Manuel C., Jr. 1998. Comparison of litter dynamics in native and exotic riparian vegetation along the Middle Rio Grande of central New Mexico, U.S.A. Journal of Arid Environments. 38(2): 283-296. [28902]
  • 72. Friedman, Jonathan M.; Scott, Michael L.; Auble, Gregor T. 1997. Water management and cottonwood forest dynamics along prairie streams. In: Knopf, Fritz L.; Samson, Fred B., eds. Ecology and conservation of Great Plains vertebrates. Ecological Studies, Vol. 125. New York: Springer-Verlag: 49-71. [28993]
  • 9. Behan, Mark. 1981. The Missouri's stately cottonwoods: How can we save them? Montana Magazine. September: 76-77. [6284]
  • 96. Hansen, Paul; Pfister, Robert; Joy, John; [and others]. 1989. Classification and management of riparian sites in southwestern Montana. Missoula, MT: University of Montana, School of Forestry, Montana Riparian Association. 292 p. Draft Version 2. [8900]

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Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)

‘Siouxland’ cottonwood, is highly resistant to leaf rust and similar leaf attacking fungi. ‘Siouxland’ is a male plant, and therefore, does not produce the silky-haired "cotton" which many people consider a nuisance. Since there is no seed, the plant must be grown from cuttings.

Populus robusta, which is most likely a cross between Populus nigra and Populus angulata, is very similar to ‘Siouxland’ in appearance except that it is narrower and branches more widely. The foliage is also resistant to rust fungi. Populus robusta is a frost hardy, rapid grower. Other selections include ‘Noreaster’, ‘Mighty Mo’, ‘Platte’, ‘Ohio Red’, ‘Lydick’, ‘Schictel’, ‘Spike’(cross between Populus deltoides and Populus nigra, from the New York Plant Materials Center, original material from the Netherlands) and ‘Walker’. These selections show various levels or resistance from leaf rust and canker infestations.

Rooted cuttings and seedlings of ‘Siouxland’ and Populus robusta can be purchased from many hardwood nurseries. Other selections are more difficult to obtain, but worth the effort.

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If this tree is planted for intensive culture management care must be taken to reduce completion from weed and other unwanted vegetation. On wide spacing, disking between the rows can be used to control vegetation. Care must also be taken to avoid over grazing by deer and other animals. Around buildings the plant may prove to be a nuisance. The silky-haired seeds of the female plants can clog gutters and the shallow root system may interfere with sewer lines.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Other uses and values

More info for the terms: resistance, tree

Eastern cottonwood is relatively drought resistant [47] and has been used extensively in shelterbelt and windbreak plantings in the Great Plains region of the United States and Canada [35,173,178,209]. Hybrid clones bred for improved winter hardiness and resistance to insects and diseases are commonly used in such plantings [47]. Eastern cottonwood was introduced to Victoria, Australia, and is recommended for use in fire shelterbelts [190].

Plains cottonwood, the "Pioneer Tree of the Plains," is often the only tree found in the western United States. It is a sure sign of water and welcome shade [31,47,173]. During severe winters saplings were used as horse and cattle feed by Native Americans and early settlers [9,47,81]. Native Americans used the roots to start fires [31] and used smaller trees for lodge poles and travois. The teepee pattern is supposedly patterned after the deltoid leaf shape [173]. The Teton Dakota ate the inner bark and the Omaha used it to make the Sacred Pole. Nebraska tribe children made toys with the leaves and made gum and play jewelry from the fruits [81].

Plains cottonwood grows into an effective windbreak in 15 to 20 years, reaching 40 to 50 feet (12.2-15.2 m). It is recommended for planting in shelterbelts only if irrigated, on wetter sites, or in rows near the center of the shelterbelt [78,79].

The wood of Rio Grande cottonwood was used by the Navajo for firewood, fence posts, cradles, tinderboxes, wooden tubes of bellows, dolls, and images for ceremonies. Chewing gum was made from the sap or the catkins mixed with animal fat [60].

  • 173. Read, R. A. 1958. Silvical characteristics of plains cottonwood. Station Paper No. 33. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 18 p. [6298]
  • 178. Schroeder, Richard L.; Cable, Ted T.; Haire, Sandra L. 1992. Wildlife species richness in shelterbelts: test of a habitat model. Wildlife Society Bulletin. 20(3): 264-273. [22439]
  • 190. Simpfendorfer, K. J. 1989. Trees, farms and fires. Land and Forests Bulletin No. 30. Victoria, Australia: Department of Conservation, Forests and Lands, Lands and Forests Division. 55 p. [10649]
  • 209. Tuskan, Gerald A.; Laughlin, Kevin. 1991. Windbreak species performance and management practices as reported by Montana and North Dakota landowners. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. 46(3): 225-228. [15084]
  • 31. Calabrese, Diane M. 1993. A geography of state trees. American Forests. 99(3&4): 34-37. [21053]
  • 35. Cassel, J. Frank; Wiehe, John M. 1980. Uses of shelterbelts by birds. In: DeGraaf, Richard M., technical coordinator. Management of western forests and grasslands for nongame birds: Workshop proceedings; 1980 February 11-14; Salt Lake City, UT. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-86. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 78-87. [17899]
  • 47. Dickmann, Donald I.; Stuart, Katherine W. 1983. The culture of poplars in eastern North America. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University, Department of Forestry. 168 p. [6317]
  • 60. Elmore, Francis H. 1944. Ethnobotany of the Navajo. 1(7) Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico. 136 p. [35897]
  • 78. George, Ernest J. 1953. Thirty-one-year results in growing shelterbelts on the Northern Great Plains. Circular No. 924. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 57 p. [4567]
  • 79. George, Ernest J. 1953. Tree and shrub species for the Northern Great Plains. Circular No. 912. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 46 p. [4566]
  • 81. Gilmore, Melvin Randolph. 1919. Uses of plants by the Indians of the Missouri River region. 33rd Annual Report. Washington, DC: Bureau of American Ethnology. 154 p. [6928]
  • 9. Behan, Mark. 1981. The Missouri's stately cottonwoods: How can we save them? Montana Magazine. September: 76-77. [6284]

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Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites

More info for the terms: natural, reclamation, resistance

Eastern cottonwood is well suited for revegetating disturbed riparian sites and has also been used extensively in the reclamation of strip-mined lands [27,157,217]. Eastern cottonwood (P. d. ssp. deltoides) has been planted successfully on mine spoils in Ohio both in pure stands and in mixture with black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) [140]. The extensive root system holds streambanks in place [220], is effective in shoreline protection, and revegetating eroded stream channels [101]. Eastern cottonwood can be used as living dams for erosion and flood control work [145].

Eastern cottonwood may establish on suitable sites through natural seedfall [138,177,216], or it may be established by cuttings [47,68,133]. The average length of cuttings in the Pacific Northwest and the southern United States is about 20 inches (50 cm), while 8- to 12-inch (20-30 cm) cuttings are typical in the northern United States and Canada. However, cuttings of 8 feet (2.4 m) or more planted in 3-foot (1 m) deep holes have advantages over standard 20-inch (50 cm) cuttings. These advantages include less intensive site preparation requirements, a reduced need for browsing protection, and less intensive weed control [133]. In general, cuttings should be longer where upper soil moisture is limiting [47]. In Ohio, eastern cottonwood had better growth and survival when planted on loamy and clayey soils of previously coal strip-mined lands [140].

The growth of young cottonwood seedlings on favorable sites is rapid, but the plants must be kept free of competing vegetation to survive [34,132]. Browsing and trampling by wildlife and domestic animals must also be controlled for successful growth [47]. Whether revegetating by seeding or cuttings, native stock should be selected if available, since significant geographic variation exists in growth rate, drought resistance, wood characteristics, and sprouting ability [41,169].

Plains cottonwood was planted on surface-mined lands in Indiana 1928-1975 [27]. Rio Grande cottonwood is recommended for planting in the western Great Plains and desert southwest. Plains cottonwood is recommended for the northern Great Plains and western United States [33].

  • 101. Hoag, J. Chris. 1992. Planting techniques from the Aberdeen, ID, Plant Materials Center for vegetating shorelines and riparian areas. In: Clary, Warren P.; McArthur, E. Durant; Bedunah, Don; Wambolt, Carl L., compilers. Proceedings--symposium on ecology and management of riparian shrub communities; 1991 May 29-31; Sun Valley, ID. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-289. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station: 163-166. [19113]
  • 132. Kennedy, Harvey E., Jr. 1985. Cottonwood: An American wood. FS-231. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 8 p. [4072]
  • 133. Krinard, R. M. 1983. Continued investigations in first-year survival of long cottonwood cuttings. Tree Planters' Notes. 34(3): 34-37. [6291]
  • 138. Larson, John L. 1990. Natural revegetation of a strip-mined peatland extremely slow. Restoration & Management Notes. 8(1): 43. [14516]
  • 140. Limstrom, G. A.; Merz, R. W. 1949. Rehabilitation of lands stripped for coal in Ohio. Tech. Pap. No. 113. Columbus, OH: The Ohio Reclamation Association. 41 p. In cooperation with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Central States Forest Experiment Station. [4427]
  • 145. Maisenhelder, Louis C. 1951. Planting and growing cottonwood on bottomlands. Bulletin 485. Mississippi State, MS: Mississippi State College, Agriculture Experiment Station. 23 p. [6294]
  • 157. Muncy, Jack A. 1989. Reclamation of abandoned manganese mines in southwest Virginia and northeast Tennessee. In: Walker, D. G.; Powter, C. B.; Pole, M. W., compilers. Reclamation, a global perspective: Proceedings of the conference; 1989 August 27-31; Calgary, AB. Edmonton, AB: Alberta Land Conservation and Reclamation Council: 199-208. [14355]
  • 169. Posey, Clayton E. 1969. Phenotypic and genotypic variation in eastern cottonwood in the southern Great Plains. In: Proceedings, 10th southern conference on forest tree improvement; [Date of conference unknown]; Houston, TX. [Place of publication unknown]. [Publisher unknown]. 130-135. [7181]
  • 177. Schramm, Peter; Kalvin, Richard L. 1978. The use of prairie in strip mine reclamation. In: Glenn-Lewin, David C.; Landers, Roger Q., Jr., eds. Proceedings, 5th Midwest prairie conference; 1976 August 22-24; Ames, IA. Ames, IA: Iowa State University: 151-153. [3369]
  • 216. Vogel, Willis G. 1977. Revegetation of surface-mined lands in the East. In: Forests for people: A challenge in world affairs: Proceedings of the Society of American Foresters 1977 national convention; 1977 October 2-6; Albuquerque, NM. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters: 167-172. [9949]
  • 217. Vogel, Willis G. 1981. A guide for revegetating coal minespoils in the eastern United States. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-68. Broomall, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 190 p. [15577]
  • 220. Walker, Laurence C. 1990. Forests: A naturalist's guide to trees and forest ecology. Wiley Nature Editions. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 288 p. [13341]
  • 27. Brothers, Timothy S. 1988. Indiana surface-mine forests: historical development and composition of a human-created vegetation complex. Southeastern Geographer. 28(1): 19-33. [8787]
  • 33. Carlson, Jack R. 1992. Selection, production, and use of riparian plant materials for the western United States. In: Landis, Thomas D., technical coordinator. Proceedings, Intermountain Forest Nursery Association; 1991 August 12-16; Park City, UT. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-211. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 55-67. [20926]
  • 34. Carter, Mason C.; White, E. H. 1971. The necessity for intensive cultural treatment in cottonwood plantations. Circular 189. Auburn, AL: Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station. 11 p. [7177]
  • 41. Cunningham, Richard A. 1975. Provisional tree and shrub seed zones for the Great Plains. Res. Pap. RM-150. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 15 p. [4516]
  • 47. Dickmann, Donald I.; Stuart, Katherine W. 1983. The culture of poplars in eastern North America. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University, Department of Forestry. 168 p. [6317]
  • 68. Farmer, Robert E., Jr.; Pitcher, John A. 1981. Pollen handling for southern hardwoods. In: Pollen management handbook. Agric. Handb. 587. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 77-83. [12654]

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Cover Value

More info for the terms: cover, natural

Eastern cottonwoods provide a nesting place for white-throated sparrows and myrtle warblers [187]. They provide roost sites for Rio Grande turkeys [14] and nursery colonies for the Indiana bat [24]. In North Dakota, eastern cottonwoods provide important night roosting cover in winter for the greater prairie-chicken and sharp-tailed grouse [146]. Eastern screech-owls are found in plains cottonwood dominated riparian woodlands east of the Continental Divide [69]. Plains cottonwoods are a very important nesting substrate for nesting raptors. Plains cottonwoods are used for nesting by golden and bald eagles, several hawk species, Lewis' and red-headed woodpeckers, and other cavity nesters [17,167,179,180].

The only natural habitat for fox squirrels is plains cottonwood bottomlands.  Plains cottonwood stands in Colorado are used by fox squirrels for nesting and feeding [232]. Plains cottonwood forests provide nesting sites for eagles, hawks, and other birds [17,69,167]. The cover value of plains cottonwood for some wildlife species has been rated as follows [49]:

CO MT ND WY
Elk ---- Fair ---- Good
Mule deer ---- Fair Fair Good
White-tailed deer Fair Good Good Good
Pronghorn ---- ---- Poor Poor
Upland game birds Poor Fair Poor Good
Waterfowl ---- ---- ---- Poor
Small non-game birds Good Fair Good Good
Small mammals Good Poor ---- Good

The cover value of Rio Grande cottonwood in Colorado has been rated as follows [49]:

White-tailed deer Fair
Upland game birds Poor
Small non-game birds Good
Small mammals Good

  • 14. Bidwell, T. G. 1994. Effects of introduced plants on native wildlife in the Great Plains. In: Riparian area management: Proceedings of the 46th annual meeting of the Great Plains Agricultural Council; 1994 June 20-23; Manhattan, KS. Publication No. 149. Manhattan, KS: The Great Plains Agricultural Council: 73-79. [27098]
  • 146. Manske, Llewellyn L.; Barker, William T. 1988. Habitat usage by prairie grouse on the Sheyenne National Grasslands. In: Bjugstad, Ardell J., technical coordinator. Prairie chickens on the Sheyenne National Grasslands: Symposium proceedings; 1987 September 18; Crookston, MN. General Technical Report RM-159. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 8-20. [5200]
  • 167. Phillips, Robert L.; Beske, Alan E. 1990. Distribution and abundance of golden eagles and other raptors in Campbell and Converse Counties, Wyoming. Fish and Wildlife Technical Report 27. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 31 p. [15473]
  • 17. Bock, Carl E.; Hadow, H. H.; Somers, P. 1971. Relations between Lewis' and red-headed woodpeckers in southeastern Colorado. Wilson Bulletin. 83(3): 237-248. [6302]
  • 179. Scott, Michael L.; Auble, Gregor T.; Friedman, Jonathan M. 1997. Flood dependancy of cottonwood establishment along the Missouri River, Montana, USA. Ecological Applications. 7(2): 677-690. [28708]
  • 180. Sedgwick, James A.; Knopf, Fritz L. 1990. Habitat relationships and nest site characteristics of cavity-nesting birds in cottonwood floodplains. Journal of Wildlife Management. 54(1): 112-124. [11105]
  • 187. Shelford, V. E. 1954. Some lower Mississippi valley flood plain biotic communities; their age and elevation. Ecology. 35(2): 126-142. [4329]
  • 232. Yeager, Lee E. 1959. Status and population trend in fox squirrels on fringe range, Colorado. Journal of Wildlife Management. 23(1): 102-107. [6303]
  • 24. Brady, John T. 1983. Use of dead trees by the endangered Indiana bat. In: Davis, Jerry W.; Goodwin, Gregory A.; Ockenfeis, Richard A., technical coordinators. Snag Habitat management: proceedings of the symposium; 1983 June 7-9; Flagstaff, AZ. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-99. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 111-113. [17823]
  • 49. Dittberner, Phillip L.; Olson, Michael R. 1983. The plant information network (PIN) data base: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. FWS/OBS-83/86. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 786 p. [806]
  • 69. Fitton, Sam. 1993. Screech-owl distribution in Wyoming. Western Birds. 24: 182-188. [24789]

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Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

More info for the terms: cover, natural

In the northern Great Plains, eastern cottonwoods are a component of riparian forests and moist woodlands that provide critical habitat for many wildlife species [9,15,107,119,187,200]. These woodland areas may constitute up to 50% of the habitat for deer and 70% of the habitat for sharp-tailed grouse throughout much of the Great Plains. Domestic livestock use these communities for shade, forage, and water in the summer, and for thermal cover in the winter [15]. Eastern cottonwood has been classified as having fair value for all wildlife, songbirds, upland game birds, fur and game mammals [32].

The bark and leaves of eastern cottonwood seedlings and saplings are eaten by field mice, rabbits, deer, and domestic livestock [9,28,122,145]. Wesley and others [226] observed the use of eastern cottonwood plantations in Arkansas and Mississippi by wild turkeys for courtship, prenesting, nesting, and poultry rearing. Eastern cottonwood plantations were used by white-tailed does, rabbits, and northern bobwhite more than surrounding natural stands.

Plains cottonwood stands provide habitat for 82% of all bird species breeding in northeastern Colorado [181]. These forests provide roosting and nesting sites [21,80,91,107,153,167], feeding sites [63,107,116,205], and nest material for several bird species [80]. Beavers use the wood of plains cottonwood for food and for buildings dams and lodges [92]. The plains cottonwood/red-osier dogwood community provides thermal cover, debris recruitment, and streamside stability for fishes [92,173]. Plains cottonwood is eaten by prairie porcupines [98] and is the most important browse species for mule deer in the fall [148].

  • 107. Hopkins, Rick B. 1984. Avian species associated with prairie woodland types. In: Noble, Daniel L.; Winokur, Robert P., eds. Wooded draws: characteristics and values for the northern Great Plains: Proceedings of a symposium; 1984 June 12-13; Rapid City, SD. Great Plains Agricultural Council Publication No. 111. Rapid City, SD: South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Biology Department: 27-35. [1192]
  • 116. Hunter, William C.; Ohmart, Robert D.; Anderson, Bertin W. 1988. Use of exotic saltcedar (Tamarix chinensis) by birds in arid riparian systems. The Condor. 90: 113-123. [25940]
  • 119. Jackson, Jerome A. 1970. A quantitative study of the foraging ecology of downy woodpeckers. Ecology. 51(2): 318-323. [20556]
  • 122. Johnson, Robert L. 1965. Regenerating cottonwood from natural seedfall. Journal of Forestry. 63(1): 33-36. [6290]
  • 145. Maisenhelder, Louis C. 1951. Planting and growing cottonwood on bottomlands. Bulletin 485. Mississippi State, MS: Mississippi State College, Agriculture Experiment Station. 23 p. [6294]
  • 148. Martinka, C. J. 1968. Habitat relationships of white-tailed deer and mule deer in northern Montana. Journal of Wildlife Management. 32: 558-565. [6925]
  • 15. Bjugstad, Ardell J. 1977. Reestablishment of woody plants on mine spoils and management of mine water impoundments: an overview of Forest Service research on the northern High Plains. In: Wright, R. A., ed. The reclamation of disturbed lands. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press: 3-12. [4238]
  • 153. Miller, Michael S.; Buford, Daniel J.; Lutz, R. Scott. 1991. Habitat use, productivity, and survival of Rio Grande wild turkey hens in southwestern Kansas. In: Lutz, R. Scott; Wester, David B., editors. Research highlights--1991: Noxious brush and weed control; range and wildlife management. Volume 22. Lubbock, TX: Texas Tech University, College of Agricultural Sciences: 27. [18357]
  • 167. Phillips, Robert L.; Beske, Alan E. 1990. Distribution and abundance of golden eagles and other raptors in Campbell and Converse Counties, Wyoming. Fish and Wildlife Technical Report 27. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 31 p. [15473]
  • 173. Read, R. A. 1958. Silvical characteristics of plains cottonwood. Station Paper No. 33. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 18 p. [6298]
  • 181. Segelquist, Charles A.; Scott, Michael L.; Auble, Gregor T. 1993. Establishment of Populus deltoides under simulated alluvial groundwater declines. The American Midland Naturalist. 130(2): 274-285. [29823]
  • 187. Shelford, V. E. 1954. Some lower Mississippi valley flood plain biotic communities; their age and elevation. Ecology. 35(2): 126-142. [4329]
  • 200. Stevenson, James O.; Meitzen, Logan H. 1946. Behavior and food habits of Sennett's white-tailed hawk in Texas. Wilson Bulletin. 58(4): 198-205. [20006]
  • 205. Swenson, Jon E. 1985. Seasonal habitat use by sharp-tailed grouse, Tympanuchus phasianellus, on mixed-grass prairie in Montana. Canadian Field-Naturalist. 99(1): 40-46. [23501]
  • 21. Bottorff, Richard L. 1974. Cottonwood habitat for birds in Colorado. American Birds. 28(6): 975-979. [6309]
  • 226. Wesley, David E.; Perkins, C. J.; Sullivan, A. D. 1981. Wildlife in cottonwood plantations. Southern Journal of Applied Forestry. 5(1): 37-41. [6305]
  • 28. Bull, Henry; Muntz, H. H. 1943. Planting cottonwood on bottomlands. Bulletin 391. Mississippi State, MS: Mississippi State College, Agricultural Experiment Station. 18 p. [7180]
  • 32. Carey, Andrew B.; Gill, John D. 1980. Firewood and wildlife. Res. Note 299. Broomall, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 5 p. [9925]
  • 63. Evans, Keith E.; Dietz, Donald R. 1974. Nutritional energetics of sharp-tailed grouse during winter. Journal of Wildlife Management. 38(4): 622-629. [14152]
  • 80. Gilmer, David S.; Stewart, Robert E. 1984. Swainson's hawk nesting ecology in North Dakota. The Condor. 86: 12-18. [22653]
  • 9. Behan, Mark. 1981. The Missouri's stately cottonwoods: How can we save them? Montana Magazine. September: 76-77. [6284]
  • 91. Hadow, Harlo H. 1973. Winter ecology of migrant and resident Lewis' woodpeckers in southeastern Colorado. The Condor. 75(2): 210-224. [6301]
  • 92. Hansen, Paul L.; Boggs, Keith; Pfister, Robert D.; [and others]. 1994. Classification and management of riparian and wetland sites in Montana. In: Hamre, R. H., ed. Workshop on western wetlands and riparian areas: public/private efforts in recovery, management, and education: Proceedings; 1993 September 9-11; Snowbird, UT. Boulder, CO: Thorne Ecological Institute: 1-17. [27800]
  • 98. Hendricks, Paul; Allard, Herbert F. 1988. Winter food habits of prairie porcupines in Montana. Prairie Naturalist. 20(1): 1-6. [9334]

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Wood Products Value

More info for the term: fuel

The wood of eastern cottonwood is moderately light in weight, rather soft, and relatively weak in bending and compression [47,132,145,210]. It is uniform in texture and usually straight grained [28,47,210]. Primary wood products include lumber [28,132,210,212,217], veneer [28,47,132,145,151,210,217], plywood [132], excelsior [28,47,151,210], fiberboard [28,45,151,212], paper pulp [28,45,132,151,212,217], sawtimber [47], and pulpwood [47,132,210]. Finished wood products include pallets, crates [28,145,151], furniture [145], and food containers [132]. Eastern cottonwood is slightly to nonresistant to heartwood decay [210].

Eastern cottonwood is a valuable timber species [28,159]. It is used as a short-rotation intensive culture species in the southern United States [47,160] and Canada [144], and is highly suitable for plantation management [75,134,145].

Plains cottonwood has similar wood characteristics [132,173], but is not considered to be commercially valuable [132]. The wood is not durable when exposed to soil and other moist conditions. It is used for rough construction lumber, temporary fence posts, corral poles, fuel, veneer, boxes, plywood, excelsior, and wood pulp [173].
  • 132. Kennedy, Harvey E., Jr. 1985. Cottonwood: An American wood. FS-231. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 8 p. [4072]
  • 134. Krinard, Roger M.; Johnson, Robert L. 1984. Cottonwood plantation growth through 20 years. Res. Pap. SO-212. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station. 11 p. [6286]
  • 144. Maini, J. S.; Cayford, J. H., eds. 1968. Growth and utilization of poplars in Canada. Departmental Publication No. 1205. Ottawa, ON: Department of Forestry and Rural Development. 257 p. [6498]
  • 145. Maisenhelder, Louis C. 1951. Planting and growing cottonwood on bottomlands. Bulletin 485. Mississippi State, MS: Mississippi State College, Agriculture Experiment Station. 23 p. [6294]
  • 151. Merz, Robert W., compiler. 1978. Forest atlas of the Midwest. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, National Forest System, Cooperative Forestry, Forestry Research. 48 p. [10057]
  • 159. Myers, Ronald L. 2000. Fire in tropical and subtropical ecosystems. In: Brown, James K.; Smith, Jane Kapler, eds. Wildland fire in ecosystems: Effects of fire on flora. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-42-vol. 2. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station: 161-173. [36985]
  • 160. Newling, Charles J. 1990. Restoration of bottomland hardwood forests in the lower Mississippi Valley. Restoration & Management Notes. 8(1): 23-28. [14611]
  • 173. Read, R. A. 1958. Silvical characteristics of plains cottonwood. Station Paper No. 33. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 18 p. [6298]
  • 210. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory. 1974. Wood handbook: wood as an engineering material. Agric. Handb. No. 72. Washington, DC. 415 p. [16826]
  • 212. Uddin, M. Rafique; Meyer, Martin M., Jr.; Jokela, J. J. 1988. Plantlet production from anthers of eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides). Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 18: 937-941. [5422]
  • 217. Vogel, Willis G. 1981. A guide for revegetating coal minespoils in the eastern United States. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-68. Broomall, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 190 p. [15577]
  • 28. Bull, Henry; Muntz, H. H. 1943. Planting cottonwood on bottomlands. Bulletin 391. Mississippi State, MS: Mississippi State College, Agricultural Experiment Station. 18 p. [7180]
  • 45. DeBell, D. S.; Mallonee, E. H.; Alford, L. T. 1975. Effect of nitrogen fertilizer on growth, form, and wood quality of eastern cottonwood. Forest Research Note No. 4. Camas, WA: Crown Zellerbach Corporation. 6 p. [3294]
  • 47. Dickmann, Donald I.; Stuart, Katherine W. 1983. The culture of poplars in eastern North America. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University, Department of Forestry. 168 p. [6317]
  • 75. Funck, James W.; Prestemon, Dean R.; Bensend, Dwight W. 1981. Production of eastern cottonwood 2 by 4 lumber. Forest Products Journal. 31(1): 54-57. [5303]

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Nutritional Value

Plains and Rio Grande cottonwood have been rated as fair in energy and protein
value. The gross energy value of plains cottonwood is
5.385%, crude protein 5.4% (oven-dried weight), and metabolizable energy 2.686%
(air dried) [63]. The wildlife food value of plains cottonwood in 3 western states has been
rated as follows [49]:

 MTNDWY
ElkPoor----Good
Mule deerPoorFairGood
White-tailed deerFairFairGood
Pronghorn----FairPoor
Upland game birds----FairPoor
Waterfowl--------Poor
Small non-game birds----PoorFair
Small mammals--------Good
  • 49. Dittberner, Phillip L.; Olson, Michael R. 1983. The plant information network (PIN) data base: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. FWS/OBS-83/86. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 786 p. [806]
  • 63. Evans, Keith E.; Dietz, Donald R. 1974. Nutritional energetics of sharp-tailed grouse during winter. Journal of Wildlife Management. 38(4): 622-629. [14152]

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Palatability

Evans and Dietz [63] found plains cottonwood was the
least palatable to sage grouse of all trial foods. The palatability of plains cottonwood
has been rated as follows [49]:

 COMTNDWY
CattlePoorPoorFairFair
Domestic sheepPoorFairFairFair
HorsePoorPoorFairFair

In Colorado, the palatability of Rio Grande cottonwood has been rated poor
for cattle, domestic sheep, and horses [49]:

  • 49. Dittberner, Phillip L.; Olson, Michael R. 1983. The plant information network (PIN) data base: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. FWS/OBS-83/86. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 786 p. [806]
  • 63. Evans, Keith E.; Dietz, Donald R. 1974. Nutritional energetics of sharp-tailed grouse during winter. Journal of Wildlife Management. 38(4): 622-629. [14152]

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Uses

Timber: The wood of eastern cottonwood is light, soft, and weak. It is not durable, warps badly in drying, and is difficult to season. It is used principally for containers, interior parts of furniture, corestock in plywood, and high-grade pulp.

Erosion control: It is planted on strip mine spoils for erosion control and wood production. Male, non-hybrid adapted clones make good selections for windbreaks in multi-row installations.

Recreation: Due to its rapid growth rate, it is frequently used for providing quick shade around recreational developments, campsites and picnic areas.

Landscape and beautification: This species is occasionally planted as an ornamental shade tree, however caution should be used because the tree grows large and is susceptible to wind and ice damage.

Wildlife: Seedlings and young trees are browsed by rabbits, deer, and domestic stock. Beavers use saplings and poles for food and dam construction.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS Plant Materials Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Wikipedia

Populus deltoides

Populus deltoides, the eastern cottonwood, is a cottonwood poplar native to North America, growing throughout the eastern, central, and southwestern United States, the southernmost part of eastern Canada, and northeastern Mexico.[1] It is a dicot.[2]

Description[edit]

Populus deltoides is a large tree growing to 20–40 m (67–130 ft) tall and with a trunk up to 1.8 m (5.9 ft) diameter, one of the largest North American hardwood trees. The bark is silvery-white, smooth or lightly fissured when young, becoming dark gray and deeply fissured on old trees. The twigs are grayish-yellow and stout, with large triangular leaf scars. The winter buds are slender, pointed, 1–2 cm long (.039–0.79 inches), yellowish brown, and resinous. It is one of the fastest growing trees in North America. In Mississippi River bottoms, height growth of 10-15 ft per year for a few years are possible. Sustained height growth of 5 feet height growth and 1 inch diameter growth per year for 25 years is common.


The leaves are large, deltoid (triangular), 4–10 cm (1.6–3.9 inches) long and 4–11 cm (1.6–4.3 inches) broad with a truncated (flattened) base and a petiole 3–12 cm (1.2–4.7 inches) long. The leaf is very coarsely toothed, the teeth are curved and gland tipped, and the petiole is flat; they are dark green in the summer and turn yellow in the fall (but many cottonwoods in dry locations drop their leaves early from the combination of drought and leaf rust, making their fall color dull or absent). Due to the flat stem of the leaf, the leaf has the tendency to shake from even the slightest breeze. This is one of the identifying characteristics.[3]

It is dioecious, with the flowers (catkins) produced on single-sex trees in early spring. The male (pollen) catkins are reddish-purple and 8–10 cm (2.1–3.9 inches) long; the female catkins are green, 7–13 cm (2.8–5.1 inches) long at pollination, maturing 15–20 cm (6.9–7.9 inches) long with several 6–15 mm (0.24–0.59 inches) seed capsules in early summer, which split open to release the numerous small seeds attached to cotton-like strands.[4][5][6]

Variation[edit]

The species is divided into three subspecies[1][7] or up to five varieties.[8] The subspecies classification is as follows:

  • Populus deltoides subsp. deltoides, eastern cottonwood is found in southeastern Canada (the south of Ontario and Quebec) and the eastern United States (throughout, west to North Dakota to Texas).
  • P. d. monilifera (Aiton) Eckenw., the plains cottonwood (syn. P. deltoides var. occidentalis Rydb.; P. sargentii Dode) ranges from southcentral Canada (southern Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba) to the central United States and south to northern New Mexico and Texas.
  • P. d. wislizeni (S.Watson) Eckenw., the Rio Grande cottonwood (syn. P. wislizeni (S.Watson) Sarg.; P. fremontii var. wislizeni S.Watson) grows from southern Colorado south through Texas to northeastern Mexico (Chihuahua, San Luis Potosi), and west to Arizona (presence in California, listed by GRIN,[1] is doubtful, not included in the Jepson Flora of California[9]). (Note: Some sources mistakenly spell the epithet "wislizenii." Correct spelling is with one "i," per ICN article 60C.2.[10])

Ecology[edit]

It needs bare soil and full sun for successful germination and establishment; in natural conditions, it usually grows near rivers, with mud banks left after floods providing ideal conditions for seedling germination; human soil cultivation has allowed it to increase its range away from such habitats.[6]

The leaves serve as food for caterpillars of various Lepidoptera (List of Lepidoptera that feed on poplars).

In vitro culture[edit]

A high frequency direct plant regeneration protocol has been described by Rakesh Yadav et al., 2009.

Oldest and largest[edit]

Seeds and seed hairs from an eastern cottonwood

Eastern cottonwoods typically live 70 to 100 years, but they have the potential to live 200 to 400 years if they have a good growing environment.

Currently, the Balmville Tree is the oldest eastern cottonwood in the United States.

  • The US national champion Populus deltoides var. deltoides is located in Sheridan County, Kansas and measures 96 ft. (29.3 m) tall, 127 ft. (38.7 m) wide with a trunk circumference at breast height (CBH) of 35 ft. 7 in. (10.85 m).[11]
  • The US national champion Populus deltoides var. monilifera is located in Ravalli County, Montana and measures 112 ft. (34.1 m) tall, 94 ft. (28.65 m) wide with a trunk circumference at breast height (CBH) of 32 ft. 10 in. (10 m).[12]
  • The US national champion Populus deltoides var. wislizeni is located in Bernalillo County, New Mexico and measures 84 ft. (25.6 m) tall, 83 ft. (25.3 m) wide with a trunk circumference at breast height (CBH) of 32 ft. 9 in. (10 m).[13]

The largest recorded cottonwood tree in the world is the Frimley Park tree located in Hastings, New Zealand.[14]

Symbolism[edit]

Calling the cottonwood tree "the pioneer of the prairie", the Kansas state legislature designated the cottonwood the official state tree of Kansas in 1937.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Germplasm Resources Information Network: Populus deltoides
  2. ^ http://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=pode3
  3. ^ Barnes and Wagner, Michigan Trees, University of Michigan Press, 2004
  4. ^ USGS Aquatic and Wetland Vascular Plants of the Northern Great Plains: A successful, simple, reproducible, high frequency micropropagation protocol has been described by Yadav Rakesh et al., 2009 [1] Populus deltoides
  5. ^ v-Plants (Chicago Herbarium): Populus deltoides
  6. ^ a b US Forest Service Silvics Manual: Populus deltoides
  7. ^ Eckenwalder, J.E. (1977). "North American cottonwoods (Populus, Salicaceae) of sections Abaso and Aigeiros". Journal of the Arnold Arboretum 58 (3): 193–208. 
  8. ^ The Plant List: A working list of all plant species, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Missouri Botanical Garden 
  9. ^ Jepson Flora: Populus; clicking 'next taxon' through the genus shows no entry for this taxon)
  10. ^ J. McMeill et al. (eds). 2012. International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants. Regnum Vegetabile 154. Koeltz Scientific Books. ISBN 978-3-87429-425-6
  11. ^ American Forests (2008). "Eastern Cottonwood Record". Retrieved February 27, 2013. 
  12. ^ American Forests (2012). "Plains Cottonwood Record". Retrieved February 27, 2013. 
  13. ^ American Forests (2012). "Rio Grande Cottonwood Record". Retrieved February 27, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Tree Information". The Zealand Tree Register. Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
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Source: Wikipedia

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

More info for the term: marsh

The currently accepted name of eastern cottonwood is Populus deltoides Bartr. ex Marsh.
(Salicaceae) [56,128]. It is in the Aigeiros section of Populus
[86]. Recognized infrataxa are as follows:

Populus deltoides ssp. deltoides Bartr. ex Marsh. 
eastern cottonwood 

Populus deltoides ssp. monilifera (Ait.) Eckenwalder    plains cottonwood
[48,126,128]

Populus deltoides ssp. wislizeni (S. Wats.) Eckenwalder   Rio Grande cottonwood
[48,56,126,128]

In this species summary eastern cottonwood refers to the species (Populus deltoides) unless otherwise noted as P. d. ssp. deltoides.
Plains cottonwood and Rio Grande cottonwood refer to P. d.
ssp. monilifera and P. d. ssp. wislizeni, respectively.

Eastern cottonwood produces several hybrids:

Carolina poplar (P. × canadensis Moench); from hybridization with Lombardy cottonwood (P. nigra) [56,57,88]

lanceleaf cottonwood (P. × acuminata Rydb.); afrom hybridization with narrowleaf cottonwood (P. angustifolia) [47,88]

balm-of-Gilead (P. × jackii Sarg.); from hybridization with balsam poplar (P. balsamifera)
[47,57,65,88]

  • 126. Jones, Stanley D.; Wipff, Joseph K.; Montgomery, Paul M. 1997. Vascular plants of Texas. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 404 p. [28762]
  • 128. Kartesz, John T.; Meacham, Christopher A. 1999. Synthesis of the North American flora (Windows Version 1.0), [CD-ROM]. Available: North Carolina Botanical Garden. In cooperation with the Nature Conservancy, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [2001, January 16]. [36715]
  • 47. Dickmann, Donald I.; Stuart, Katherine W. 1983. The culture of poplars in eastern North America. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University, Department of Forestry. 168 p. [6317]
  • 48. Diggs, George M., Jr.; Lipscomb, Barney L.; O'Kennon, Robert J. 1999. Illustrated flora of northcentral Texas. Sida Botanical Miscellany No. 16. Fort Worth, TX: Botanical Research Institute of Texas. 1626 p. [35698]
  • 56. Eckenwalder, James E. 1992. Salicaceae: Willow family. Part one: Populus. In: A new flora for Arizona in preparation. In: Journal of the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science. 26(1): 29-33. [21485]
  • 57. Eckenwalder, James E. 1996. Systematics and evolution of Populus. In: Stettler, R. F.; Bradshaw, H. D., Jr.; Heilman, P. E.; Hinckley, T. M., eds. Biology of Populus and its implications for management and conservation. Ottawa, ON: National Research Council of Canada, NRC Research Press: 7-32. [28505]
  • 65. Farmer, R. E. 1991. Genetic improvement of poplar in western Canada: Alternatives, opportunities, and pitfalls. In: Navratil, S.; Chapman, P. B., eds. Aspen management for the 21st century; 1990 November 20 - November 21; Edmonton, AB. Edmonton, AB: Forestry Canada, Northwest Region and Poplar Council of Canada: 129-134. [18551]
  • 86. Gom, Lori A.; Rood, Stewart B. 1999. Fire induces clonal sprouting of riparian cottonwoods. Canadian Journal of Botany. 77(11): 1604-1616. [35953]
  • 88. Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. 1392 p. [1603]

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Common Names

eastern cottonwood

plains cottonwood

Rio Grande cottonwood

plains poplar

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