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.
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