narrowleaf cottonwood Salicaceae Populus
Leaf: Alternate, simple, lanceolate to narrowly ovate (willow-like), 2 to 5 inches long, finely serrated, often with a very short petiole that is partially flattened, shiny green above, paler and often blotchy orange below.
Flower: Species is dioecious; male and female as hanging, long (several inches), pale yellow-green catkins, appearing in early spring before the leaves.
Fruit: Small (1/4 inch), 2-valved, dry capsule on a hanging catkin, each capsule contains numerous small, cottony seeds.
Twig: Slender to moderately stout, round, shiny yellow-brown, orange lenticels, buds are yellow-green and brown, long (1 inch), curved, resinous and fragrant. Twig has a bitter aspirin taste.
Bark: Smooth light gray with many lenticels when young, later becoming darker with long deep furrows and broad ridges, often very thick and rough.
Form: Medium sized tree up to 60 feet with a narrow crown.
Looks like: Fremont cottonwood - balsam poplar - black cottonwood - arroyo willow