Family: Salicaceae

Eastern Cottonwood Map

Eastern Cottonwood can grow to a large tree that is 65–130 feet tall and with a trunk that can be nearly 6 feet in diameter.  This makes it one of the largest North American hardwood trees.

Cottonwoods tend to grow in deep moist soils along the margins of rivers, streams, and lakes.

The Eastern Cottonwood is one of the fastest-growing trees in North America. In the Mississippi River bottoms, a growth rate of up to 10–15 feet per year has been observed. Sustained growth rates of up 5 feet in height per year are common.

The bark is silvery-white, smooth, or lightly fissured when young, but becomes dark grey and deeply fissured in older trees.

The leaves are somewhat rounded and triangular with coarsely toothed edges.  The teeth are curved and gland-tipped.  The leaf petioles are flat and ribbonlike, which allow the leaves to wave in the slightest breeze.


Eastern Cottonwood leaves  Eastern Cottonwood


Additional References:



LEARN MORE  about the Woods on the Ariel-Foundation Park main site!


A special thanks to the students of the Field Botany class at Mount Vernon Nazarene University who wrote the reports on the various kinds of trees found in The Woods. These students include Chandler Cook, Grace Hall, Emily Kauble, Keith Kitchen, Madison Lotz, Kevin Maurer, Christina Norcross, Caroline Phillips, Dakoda Ramsey, Jacob Schott, Emily Smith, and Katelyn Stone.

All photos linked in this Learning Station courtesy of D. Mosher, Mount Vernon Nazarene University.

Appendix I

Plant surveys were done by the Field Botany class at Mount Vernon Nazarene University during the fall semester of 2016.  A summary of the class surveys for woody plants and herbaceous plants is available.