The largest and fastest growing tree in the state. Native
to moist soils along streams and wetlands throughout the
state. Flood control dams have reduced spring flooding
and the success of natural cottonwood regeneration along
riparian areas. The largest living tree in North Dakota is
110 feet tall with a canopy spread of 94 feet.
Leaves and Buds
Bud Arrangement – Alternate.
Bud Color – Chestnut-brown, sticky, conical.
Bud Size – Medium, 1/2 to 3/4 inch long.
Leaf Type and Shape – Simple leaves, triangular-cordate,
acuminate tips, petioles are flattened.
Leaf Margins – Coarsely-dentate with curved teeth,
entire near apex and base.
Leaf Surface – Glabrous.
Leaf Length – 3 to 5 inches.
Leaf Width – 3 to 5 inches.
Leaf Color – Lustrous, bright-green during summer,
golden-yellow in late fall.
Flowers and Fruits
Flower Type – Unisexual catkins on female trees bear many
seeds surrounded by silky or cottony hairs.
Flower Color – Tiny brownish-red flowers early in spring.
Fruit Type – Capsule, 3 to 4 valved.
Fruit Color – Light brown, seeds in a mass of “cotton”.
Growth Habit – Upright and narrow when young;
branches spread to form a large open crown with age.
Texture – Coarse, summer; coarse, winter.
Crown Height – 50 to 100 feet.
Crown Width – 40 to 75 feet.
Bark Color – Light-gray when young, turning ash-gray and
forming thick, flattened, curved ridges separated
by deep furrows on older trees.
Root System – Shallow and wide-spreading, greater
Soil Texture – Loams to sands are most favorable.
Soil pH – 4.5 to 8.0. More alkaline tolerant than Populus
Windbreak Suitability Group – 1, 1K, 2, 2K.