Populus deltoides Bartram ex Marshall

Eastern cottonwood is an exceedingly rapid-growing, moisture-loving species that is found locally in moist places and along streams and lakes throughout the state except at the higher elevations. The wood is light, soft, and weak, and is dark brown in color with thick nearly white sapwood, warping badly in drying. It is used for pulp and for boxes. The cottonwood has been extensively planted as an ornamental tree along the streets, but as such it has few merits as it is short-lived and the roots often penetrate and clog drains and sewers. It is not easy to destroy, for, once cut down, the stump continues to sprout vigorously.

Bark - smooth on young trunks and branches; light yellowish green in color, becoming thick, ashy gray in color, and deeply furrowed with age.

Twigs - stout, round or ridged below the bud, bright yellow or greenish yellow in color; rank odor when broken.

Winter buds - terminal bud present, large, resinous, glossy, smooth, chestnut brown in color; lateral buds smaller, in many instances bending away from the twig.

Leaves - alternate, simple, broadly triangular, 3 to 5 inches long, coarsely serrate margin, square base, long and laterally flattened leaf stalk.

Fruit - a scattered cluster of capsules as in the aspens, though somewhat larger (3 to 6 inches long), arranged in long, drooping tassels. Seeds - within capsule, numerous, small, surrounded by a mat of fine hairs, ripening in the spring, conveyed long distances by the wind. The cotton-like mat of fine hairs is the reason for the name "cottonwood".

Distinguishing features - rank odor when twig is broken; incurved teeth on leaf margin of triangular leaf.

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