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Wasowski, Sally and Andy
Populus fremontii S. Watson
Fremont cottonwood, Western cottonwood, Gila cottonwood, Alamo
USDA Symbol: pofr2
USDA Native Status: L48 (N)
A fast-growing riparian tree, Fremontís cottonwood has been known to grow 30 ft. in one year. Its ultimate height is up to 90 ft. Tree with broad, flattened, open crown of large, widely spreading branches. The crown is broad and open with stout branches. Bark is whitish and roughly cracked. The triangular, deciduous leaves are bright green turning yellow in fall.
This species, including varieties, is the common cottonwood at low altitudes along the Rio Grande and Colorado River and in the rest of the Southwest, as well as in California. Fremont Cottonwood grows only on wet soil and is an indicator of permanent water and shade. Easily propagated from cuttings, it is extensively planted in its range along irrigation ditches, and although it grows rapidly, it is short-lived. To this day, Hopi Indians of the Southwest carve cottonwood roots into kachina dolls, the representations of supernatural beings, that have become valuable collectors items. Horses gnaw the sweetish bark of this species; beavers also feed on the bark and build dams with the branches. Greenish clumps of parasitic mistletoes are often scattered on the branches. Fremont Cottonwood is named for its discoverer, General John Charles Fremont (1813-90), politician, soldier, and explorer.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Tree Leaf:
Green Fruit: Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr
, UT Native Distribution:
& w. NV,
e. to Trans-Pecos, TX; also n.w. Mex. Native Habitat:
Stream banks & moist places below 6500 ft.
Growing ConditionsWater Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Moist soils.
Conditions Comments: A fast-growing tree. The plants are either male or female. To avoid cotton fluff in the spring, plant the male.
PropagationDescription: Cottonwoods can be propagated by fresh 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: Not Available
Seed Treatment: No treatment is necessary.
Commercially Avail: yes
Record Last Modified: 2009-04-24
Research By: TWC Staff