En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
10 ratings

Wednesday - June 23, 2010

From: Orion, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Seeds and Seeding, Trees
Title: Cottonwood trees shedding in Orion MI
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How long can I plan on my cottonwood trees (wild) shedding long wide cotton strips? This is a first for my trees. Usually it is fluffy small puffs.

ANSWER:

Populus deltoides (eastern cottonwood) is native to Oakland County and its seeds have long been the bane of anyone living around it. In particular, those flying puffs of cotton are extremely allergenic. The cottonwood itself is not very popular, as it tends to drop big limbs, has large roots, and weak wood. It grows very fast, particularly in a moist area, and you can still see them coming up in creek beds in Texas. We found a website from Hortiscope Questions on Cottonwood that has all kinds of good information, including the name of a product thought to inhibit the cotton production. We were never able to find any information on how much longer the cottonwoods will be flying cotton in your area, but the above-mentioned website said that it usually lasts about 4 weeks. Depending on where the tree is growing, of course, that will be earlier or later in the Spring than now. 

We have no idea why the "cotton" is in long strips instead of little puffs. Perhaps the tree is now more mature? 

By the way, after many questions on how to stop the cotton flying, the author of the article we referenced, Ron Smith, Horticulturist for the North Dakota State University Extension Service, said the only way he knew of was to cut the tree down.

 

From the Image Gallery


Eastern cottonwood
Populus deltoides

Eastern cottonwood
Populus deltoides

Eastern cottonwood
Populus deltoides

Eastern cottonwood
Populus deltoides

More Seeds and Seeding Questions

Will Habiturf be chicken feed from New Caney TX
November 21, 2013 - How well does your recommended native turf grass mix hold up against chickens or do double duty as feed? I have a mixed use property that will house Rabbits, Poultry (chickens/duck/geese), and ev...
view the full question and answer

Too late to begin planting in May in Austin?
April 30, 2008 - Is it too late to begin planting in May? I live in Austin Texas and have finally completed my plans for a native Texas landscaping (plants and grass) of my front yard. I'd like to get the landscapi...
view the full question and answer

Fertilizing oaks to produce acorns
January 16, 2012 - Will fertilizing oak trees help with acorn production?
view the full question and answer

Weak flowering on rosa minutifolia from San Diego CA
July 27, 2013 - Hi, I have a Rosa minutifolia and has been doing great, but when it gives flowers the petals fall too fast, only last a day or two and also the fruit never forms completely and finishes drying so I ca...
view the full question and answer

Research on Atriplex confertifolia in Austin
January 21, 2010 - I have heard a lot about Atriplex confertifolia (Shadscale). Has the Center done any research/trial growing of this plant for possible adaptability to Hill Country (west Austin) area? If this is a ca...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center