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Cottonwood tree appearance wood uses and lumber

Cottonwood trees are common throughout the eastern parts of North America. They are highly valued for pulp and paper production. The scientific name of the cottonwood tree is populus deltoides and is part of the salicaeae family. The tree is fast growing and prefers open, water rich areas like meadows.

cottonwood tree tall and fast growing trees

Cottonwood tree, leaf and flower description

cottonwood tree catkins and leavesThe cottonwood tree can grow to heights up to 100 feet or 30 meters. The tree is classed deciduous and won't have leaves from late autumn till early spring.

Cottonwood leaves are arranged alternate and ovate to triangular shaped with toothed edges. They can reach lengths up to 6 inches or 15 cm. Cottonwood leaves are shiny grass to dark green on the sun side and lighter on the other side.

In autumn the leaves turn dark yellow and fall too the ground. Catkins are the flowers, and in a later stage the seeds of the cottonwood tree.


Cottonwood tree bark and trunk

Young cottonwood trees have smooth green yellow to grey brown bark. When the tree gets older the bark gets darker and rough furrowed. The trunk of old cottonwood trees often rots from inside out. This is the main reason most cottonwood trees don't get very old. The trunk of older trees can have a diameter up to 6 feet or 2 meters.


Cottonwood tree wood properties and durability

Fresh cottonwood heartwood has yellow brown color. The sapwood is paler yellow, exposure to sunlight gives the wood a darker color, more in line with the heartwood. Cottonwood lumber has medium texture and slightly irregular pattern, low strength and shock resistance properties. The average dried weight of the wood at a moisture content of 12% is 450 kg per cubic meter. The durability of cottonwood wood is classed as V low durability.


Cottonwood lumber working tips and uses

cottonwood tree wood usesCottonwood is soft and easy to work with by hand or machine. Fresh cottonwood lumber shrinks but after drying remains stable. Due to this shrinkage nails and screws should be used with caution because they often get loose.

Dry cottonwood lumber nails, screws, glues, and works well both by hand or machine. The wood is used in a wide range of products like

  • firewood
  • veneer
  • turned articles
  • plywood
  • pulp for the paper industry
  • indoor furniture
  • and more

More cottonwood tree pictures!