black cottonwood
Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa

Black cottonwood grows the largest of all western hardwoods. Cottonwoods belong to the Poplar genus, and black cottonwood is also the biggest of the North American poplars. It is a fast growing tree, common to moist sites, useful for windbreaks and shelterbelts.

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Light Fall Color Water
Growth   Size

Timber Value

      Black cottonwood is used for pulp, veneer for plywood, veneer for baskets and crates, pallets, boxes, furniture (unseen parts), fiberboard, and flakeboard.


Wildlife Value
      The twigs, buds, and foliage are consumed by a variety of wildlife. Raptors and cavity nesting birds commonly use black cottonwoods.
          Attracts: voles, rabbits, hares, beavers, elk, deer, bald eagle, osprey, owls, pileated woodpecker

Regeneration methods
      Black cottonwood's shade intolerance, fast growth, and abundant stump sprouting make the species well suited for management by short rotation clearcutting.

Fun facts
Very intolerant of shade. Grows very rapidly and sprouts from the stump and from roots. Easily propagated from stem cuttings. Black cottonwood has been hybridized with several other cottonwoods and is grown in large plantations on short rotations as an agricultural crop, wood used for pulp and variety of minor products. Black cottonwood's fibers are short and fine; pulp is high-grade and used for book and magazine paper.
Populus: Latin name / balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa: balsam bearing
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2004 Virginia Tech Forestry Department, all rights reserved. Text, images, and programming by: Dr. Jeff Kirwan, Dr. John R. Seiler, John A. Peterson, Edward C. Jensen, Guy Phillips, or Andrew S. Meeks.

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