deltoides Bartr ex Marsh)
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"
Bark on young trees and on upper stems of older trees is smooth
and greenish. Bark of older trees is dark gray, heavily furrowed
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.