Cottonwoods stand out as trees in Ohio- they are tall and often are clumped together in stands, and they have distinctive leaves.
Eastern Cottonwoods enjoy moist soil. Sandy soil and areas near streams are preferred. They love the sun and dislike shade, which is why you often see them in association with Willow trees.
Eastern Cottonwoods are found largely in the Midwest and the South of the United States. Other species of Cottonwoods are found in the West.
You can frequently see young Cottonwoods growing in moist fields, where they easily take root and thrive.
The leaves are glossy, slightly toothed and triangular, and rustle in even slight breezes. They are rather distinctive as leaves go.
The leaves turn yellow early in the autumn and are among the first leaves to fall to the ground.
Cottonwoods are among the tallest trees in the East (up to 200 feet) and are one of the largest North American hardwoods. The tree is fast-growing, typically adding an inch to its diameter for each of the first 25 years of life.
The bark is silver-gray for much of its lifespan, which is brief for a tree (approximately 100 years on average- the oldest known was 316). These trees in their stands remind me of western trees along the Rocky Mountains, such as Aspens.
The wood is soft, often used to make plywood or used for pulp.
Catkins appear in the spring, and are quite noticeable.
Also noticeable is the fluff from the catkins in the spring. For a period of days, the fluff can widely be seen, having traveled on the wind.
Here is a stand of Cottonwoods, often seen near rivers or streams. The seeds germinate easily in muddy soil.
Cottonwood trees are popular in the Great Plains region. At least three states call them their state tree. A nickname for them is ‘pioneers of the prairie’.
We like them just as much here in Ohio 🙂