fremontii S. Wats.
Life Span: Perennial
cottonwood is Utah's largest or most massive deciduous tree. Its
main trunk may reach 48 inches in diameter at the base. Large widespreading
limbs begin leaving the trunk near the ground resulting in a very
broad crown, often as broad as the tree is high, which averages
about 70 feet. Fremont cottonwood reproduces both from seed and
is a long catkin, up to 6 inches long, consisting of a spike with
many small imperfect and incomplete flowers.
Seeds are very small, "cotton"-covered, and borne in egg-shaped
capsules. Suitable recruitment sites are created by the floodwaters
of spring run-off. Seeds germinate almost exclusively on the freshly
deposited, exposed alluvium left by receding floodwaters. The availability
of this type of moist, exposed habitat during the 6 to 8 weeks after
seed dispersal is crucial because of the limited period of seed
roughly triangular, with blade margins coarsely toothed with tooth
tips rounded. The leaf stalk is long and flattened. The leaves are
yellow-green all summer, turning yellow in autumn as they fall.
Buds are long, about ¾ inch, resinous, and covered with shiny
are stout and yellow-brown in color. Bark is light green and smooth
on young stems, becoming thick, gray, and vertically furrowed on
mature trunks. The wood is brittle, soft, light in weight, and decays
readily. Sapwood is whitish tan and the heartwood is light brown.
cottonwood is found mostly along low elevation (seldom above 6,000
feet) stream channels that are constantly moist. It may also be
scattered in moist valley bottoms. It is shade intolerant. Reproduces
easily from cuttings and growth is rapid.
Cottonwood species reproduce vegetatively by sprouting from stumps
and root crowns, by forming suckers (adventitious shoots on roots),
and from stem cuttings.
alluvial, sandy to sandy-clay loams with varying degrees of organic
matter, clay or other fine soil and rock deposits.
coyote willow, saltgrass,
cottonwood has been used mainly in the past for fuel and fence posts.
Its principal uses today are for streambank protection, wildlife
food and shelter, and shade for livestock and recreation facilities.
It is also grown for ornamental plantings and windbreaks.
Native Americans ate the inner bark of Fremont cottonwood for antiscorbutic.
The bark and leaves were used to make poultices to relieve swelling,
treat cuts, cure headaches, wash broken limbs, and to treat saddle
sores and swollen legs of horses. The twigs were used by the Pima
for basket materials, and Cahuilla tribes used the wood for mortars
and tools. In northern Mexico, small industries utilize the wood
to make bowls and small statues. Fremont cottonwoods were used by
the Pueblo tribes for drums and were the preferred wood species
for Quechan cremations.