Search plant names:
Links for Teachers
Site Map

Home > Resources > North Carolina Trees > Swamp Cottonwood

Swamp Cottonwood

(Populus heterophylla L.)


This is a tree that grows in low, wet sites, such as the borders of swamps and rivers, in the Atlantic coastal and Mississippi Valley regions. The tiny, cottony seeds, which are carried far by winds, genninate on wet, sandy soils. Swamp cottonwood grows singly or in small patches.

Its leaves are broadly oval, 4 to 7 inches long, and 3 to 6 inches wide. They are rounded at the tips and often are heart-shaped at the base. The margins are toothed, but the teeth are quite shallow and rounded. Leaves have a stout, yellow midrib.

The fruit resembles that of eastern cottonwood. The tree may reach 70 to 90 feet in height and 2 to 3 feet in diameter on good sites, but it usually is poorly formed. The wood is light and soft and, as lumber, requires special attention during drying to prevent serious warping. Cottonwood is used for crates and baskets. It makes excellent pulp for white paper printing.

European white poplar

(Populus alba L.) is a native of Europe that has become naturalized. It has prominent light gray bark and leaves that have few coarse teeth and are white wooly beneath. It often is found near old houses and along roadsides. European white poplar is a very aggressive species that often produces many root suckers around the base of the parent tree.

Lombardy poplar

(P nigra var italica M.), another of the true poplars, often is planted as an ornamental tree but is not well-suitcd for this use because it is very short-lived. This tree is fast-growing and produces a distinctive, tall, narrow crown.

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