Common cottonwood – Populus deltoides

Common cottonwood

Populus deltoides Marshall
Salicaceae (Willow family)

Life cycle

Fast-growing, weedy tree.


Alternate, simple, broadly triangular, 3 to 5 inches long with coarse, incurved-toothed margins and a smooth base. Leaves are shiny green above and have two to five prominent, fingerlike glands where the long, flattened petiole attaches to the leaf. Margins are outlined by a colorless border.


Up to 100 feet at maturity with a straight trunk and minimal branching. Bark is ash gray on mature trees and greenish yellow on young stems. Plants have the ability to form many vigorous, weedy sprouts.

Flowers and fruit

Male and female flowers are found on separate plants and are clustered in drooping, up to 4-inch-long spikes. Male flowers are reddish; female flowers are greenish. Fruit are three- to four-valved capsules that release cottony, wind-disseminated seeds.



Cottonwood tree
Cottonwood new growth
Cottonwood seeds
Cottonwood seedling
Cottonwood glands

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