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Wetland Plants and Plant Communities of Minnesota and Wisconsin


(Populus deltoides Marsh.)

Eastern cottonwood

WILLOW FAMILY (Salicaceae)


FIELD CHARACTERISTICS: The largest deciduous tree in Minnesota and Wisconsin, growing to a height of 30 m. or more, and 1-1.3 m. in diameter. The leaves are broadly triangular (deltoid-shaped, as in the species name) with flattened petioles and serrate margins. Leaves are 8-14 cm. long and have glands at the base. The bark of mature trees is deeply furrowed and dark gray. The flowers are in catkins. Multitudes of short-lived, minute seeds with cottony hairs are produced that can be blown for long distances. In flower during April and May.

ECOLOGICAL NOTES: Eastern cottonwood is a common tree of floodplain forests and streambanks, and is also found in uplands. It is typically a pioneering species of disturbed sites, such as berms, ditches, and quarries.

SOURCE: Brockman (1979); Fernald (1970); Gleason and Cronquist (1991); and Swink and Wilhelm (1994).

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