Populus deltoides W. Bartram ex Marshall

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Common names:
eastern cottonwood, eastern cottonwood
Growth form:
Large tree,
18 - 32 m tall, trunk diameter 0.5 - 1 m.
broadly rounded or irregular, spreading, and with some drooping branches. The trunk of open-grown trees often splits into two or more stems.
thin, smooth, and gray on young trees, becoming thick, rough, and furrowed with age.
stout, yellowish green, gray, or tan, somewhat angled. Leaf scars large, triangular, with three large bundle scars each.
yellowish brown, 1.25 cm long, slender, three-sided, long-pointed, and resinous. Terminal bud 1 - 2 cm long.
alternate, on 5 - 10 cm long, flattened, yellowish leafstalks, green and shiny above, paler beneath, 6 - 12.5 cm long, nearly as wide, broadly triangular with a straight or slightly heart-shaped base and abruptly pointed tip, coarsely toothed with gland-tipped teeth (except tip and base), thick, and firm. In autumn the leaves turn yellow.
either male or female, borne on separate trees (dioecious) in hairy-bracted catkins. Male catkin short-stalked, reddish, 8 - 10 cm long, and densely flowered. Female catkin short-stalked, greenish yellow, 15 - 20 cm long, and few-flowered.
a two- to four-valved capsule, borne in 15 - 25 cm long drooping catkins, short-stalked, greenish brown, and elliptic. Seeds light brown with cottony hairs attached.
Plant Glossary
Similar species:
The similar Populus balsamifera and P. heterophylla differ by having rounded, not flattened leafstalks. Populus alba differs by having hairy leaves and leafstalks. For comparison, the similar leaves of P. nigra lack incurved teeth and are wider than long.
late March to early May, before the leaves
Habitat and ecology:
Common in a wide range of moist habitats, including bottomland woods, foredunes, and along streams. Seedlings can be found along ditches, around ponds, and in just about any moist depression. Very large specimens occur on wooded floodplains.
Regional occurrence:
Illinois' largest tree was a Populus deltoides, located west of Gebhard Woods at the west end of Morris in Grundy County. It fell over in 1990. Though P. deltoides is sometimes planted as a shade tree, Populus species as a whole are subject to many diseases and insect pests, such as canker and tent caterpillars, which often kill the tree or make it unattractive. These risks, in conjunction with a water-hungry root system, have made Populus species less desirable for landscape use. The wood of P. deltoides is used for pulp, fuel, boxes, crates, plywood, furniture, excelsior, woodenware, and matches.
Populus is the Latin word for poplar. Deltoides means triangular.
name code: PODE3 ; page author: The Morton Arboretum ; page date: 2006-12-04
Further information (external links):
Google: Text Search Image Search
[ We can not vouch for content of other websites ]
Barnes, B. V., and W. H. Wagner, Jr. 2004. Michigan trees: A guide to the trees of the Great Lakes region. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.
Mohlenbrock, R. H. 1996. Forest trees of Illinois. 8th ed. Illinois: Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forest Resources.

Information provided on this page applies to the Chicago Region and may not be relevant or complete for other regions.