Eastern Cottonwood


Eastern Cottonwood

Populus deltoides

Family: Salicaceae

Leaf Type: Deciduous

Mature Height: ~30 m (~100 ft)

Fall Color: Golden yellow

Native Range: Eastern cottonwoods are natively found throughout the Midwest and into the Southeast.



Eastern cottonwoods are very fast-growing trees which makes them commercially important for materials, such as plywood used in construction. They require lots of water and can typically be found along riverbanks or near ponds. The leaves of eastern cottonwoods help identify the tree from a distance. They are triangular with coarse teeth and dark green on top with a lighter underleaf. The leafstalk is flat which makes the leaves flutter in the wind. Eastern cottonwoods have long fruit capsules that hang down and release white cottony fluff with their seeds. This fluff gives them their name. We recommend not sampling the fruits & nuts of the trees and plants here at Adventure Science Center. The bark of young cottonwoods is smooth and greenish gray. Mature trees have deeply furrowed gray bark.


Fun Facts

● The eastern cottonwood is the state tree of three states: Kansas, Wyoming, and Nebraska.
● It is known for releasing a “cotton-like” material to disperse its seeds, and this is how it got its common name.
● The soft wood of the eastern cottonwood is often used for plywood and the internal frames of furniture.

Photo by David J. Stang

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