Trees of Alabama and the Southeast

Lisa Samuelson, Ph.D.
School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
Auburn University

Cottonwood/Eastern Cottonwood
Populus deltoides

Leaves are simple, alternate, deciduous, triangle-shaped, and coarsely toothed with a long and flat petiole that flutters in the wind. Twigs are stout with a large, pointed, sticky, green terminal bud. Bark is gray-brown and smooth on young trees, and deeply grooved and ridged on older trees. Fruit is borne on female trees and the cottony seeds released from brown capsules resemble cotton. Form is up to 30 m (100 ft) in height and 1 m (4 ft) in diameter. Cottonwood is primarily found on floodplains in the south and central U.S. and is intolerant of shade.  The soft wood is used for pulpwood, crates and fuel. The bark is eaten by beaver and the small seeds are eaten by birds.

Photographs by Mike Hogan.

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