Search plant names:
Links for Teachers
Site Map

Home > Resources > North Carolina Trees > Eastern Cottonwood

Eastern Cottonwood

(Populus deltoides Bartr ex Marsh)

  Eastern cottonwood grows throughout most of North Carolina but most commonly is found along stream banks and in bottornlands. It does not grow naturally in the mountains. The fastest-growing commercial forest species in North America, Eastern cottonwood also is one of the tallest trees of eastern forests, reaching heights close to 200 feet and diameters of 4 to 6 feet. The average height ranges from 80 to 100 feet and 3 to 4 feet in diameter. The tree grows best on moist, well-drained soils. It does not often develop into a well-shaped tree if it is more than 15 to 50 feet above the level of the streams in the area.

Eastern cottonwood leaves are roughly triangular, toothed, pointed, 3 to 6 inches long, 4 to 5 inches wide, paler below than above and have a flattened stem.

The fruit consists of many green, ovoid capsules clustered along short stems that hang from the branches in long, narrow groups. Seeds are released from the capsules when ripe. They drift in the breeze, each one suspended from a tuft of white "cottony" hairs.

Bark on young trees and on upper stems of older trees is smooth and greenish. Bark of older trees is dark gray, heavily furrowed and ridged.

The wood is soft and lightweight. It often warps during drying but is used for baskets and crates and sometimes as a substitute for yellow poplar and linden. It is used to make the highest grade of glossy magazine paper for printing pictures.
Plant Information Center
About PIC  |  Project Staff   |  Advisory Panel Research Activities |  
Partners  Permissions 
  Funding provided in part by
Institute of Museum and Library Services

Plant Information Center is produced
in conjunction with Botnet