Cottonwood Tree – Populus deltoides
The Cottonwood Tree, also known as a poplar, is one of the largest North American deciduous trees. Valued by early American pioneers for providing generous shade, property owners today will appreciate how quickly this beautiful hardwood tree can turn an empty, sun-beaten space into a cool, comfortable area for recreation. Cottonwood trees are hardy in zones three through nine and are often seen growing by lakes, rivers, and marshes. They grow best in full sun and prefer sandy or silty soils, but are also well-adapted to harsh conditions including drought and flooding, making them a good choice for areas with these issues. Young trees will grow an astonishing six feet annually for ten to twelve years until they reach a mature height of about eighty feet. Known to grow up to one hundred feet or more, these beautiful trees produce lush canopies of small, green, heart-shaped leaves that will turn a lovely gold each fall before dropping for the winter. Canopies are often as wide as the trees are tall, spanning an average of seventy-five feet. A single Cottonwood tree can provide enough shade for a large picnic table and comfortable chairs for everyone! Their mature trunks, as large as six feet in diameter, feature thick, attractively fissured bark and are often partially hollow, attracting small wildlife from all around to entertain the children. Each spring, Cottonwood trees earn their reputation as a family favorite by releasing their seeds in clouds of bright white fluff that help the seeds disperse in the wind. Similar in texture to real cotton, this fluff can be collected and woven or used to make stuffed crafts. Even allergy sufferers can appreciate this spring ritual as studies show this snowstorm of fluff does not cause hay fever symptoms, so gather the whole clan and prepare to enjoy this wondrous tree!