Plains Cottonwood Tree

Botanical name: Populus sargentii
Family: Salicaceae (willow)

Click on images of Plains Cottonwood to enlarge.

Plains Cottonwood - Populus sargentii

  • Native
  • Deciduous
  • Hardwood (relatively soft for a hardwood)
  • Reaching heights over 120′
  • Crown spread of 75′ – 85′
  • Huge trunks capable of growing 5′ – 5′ 6″ diameter.
  • Rapid growth rate
  • Average lifespan of 50-70 years, although they do sometimes live more than 100 years.
  • Bark is light-grey, almost silver in color and deeply furrowed on mature trees.
  • Leaves are a vibrant shiny green, turning yellow in the autumn. Flat stems make leaves dance in the gentlest of breezes.
  • Dioecious (female and male flowers on different trees)
  • Flowers are catkins
  • Purple catkins on males that produce pollen.
  • Green female catkins produce a large amount of seeds which are carried in the wind by plant fibers that look like cotton.
  • Often found by rivers and lowlands
  • Full sun
  • These trees can be enormous in size and prune themselves, sometimes dropping Cadillac size branches. Branches that fall into water will grow roots and shoots that will capable of becoming another tree.
  • Wood is used in commercial production of things such as wooden pallets and paper.
  • It is the state tree for Wyoming, Kansas and Nebraska.
  • Zones 1 – 7