Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa
USDA Symbol: pobat
USDA Native Status:
A variable deciduous tree that grows quickly to 100 ft. and can reach a mature height of 180 ft. The crown is broad and open and the grayish bark becomes furrowed with age. The dark-green leaves shimmer in the breezes and contrast nicely with the light-gray bark.
Black Cottonwood, formerly considered the species P. trichocarpa but now designated a subspecies of Balsam Poplar, is the tallest native western hardwood. The current champion in Yamhill County, Oregon, measures 147 (44.8 m) in height, 30.2 (9.2 m) in trunk circumference, and 97 (29.6 m) in crown spread. The wood is used for boxes and crates, pulpwood, and excelsior. Black Cottonwood intergrades with its northern relative Balsam Poplar where both meet in southern Alaska and elsewhere.
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Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Size Class: More than 100 ft.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr
DistributionUSA: AK , CA , ID , MT , ND , NV , OR , UT , WA , WY
Canada: AB , BC , YT
Native Distribution: AK to Baja CA, e. to s.w. Alt. & w. UT
Native Habitat: Stream banks & a variety of other moist sites below 9000 ft.
Growing ConditionsWater Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Moist soils.
Conditions Comments: Seems to have two distinct forms – one coastal and one inland. A very large, fast-growing, sometimes invasive tree that is best used for reclamation projects and periodically flooded sites.
BenefitUse Wildlife: Bees collect sticky resin on buds for their hives and seal intruders in the resin to prevent decay amd protect the hive.
Use Other: Good for stabilizing stream banks.
Fragrant Foliage: yes
PropagationDescription: Cottonwoods can be propagated by seeds, cuttings or layering. Fresh seed is viable only a few days. Seeds should not be covered and seedbed should be kept saturated the first month.
Seed Collection: Seed viability is short unless stored under cold, dry conditions.
Seed Treatment: No treatment is necessary.
Commercially Avail: yes
Find Seed or Plants
Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.
View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
Recommended Species Lists
Find native plant species by state. Each list contains commercially available species suitable for gardens and planned landscapes. Once you have selected a collection, you can browse the collection or search within it using the combination search.View Recommended Species page
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa
MetadataRecord Modified: 2007-01-01
Research By: TWC Staff