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Populus angustifolia (Narrowleaf cottonwood)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy

Populus angustifolia

Populus angustifolia James

Narrowleaf Cottonwood, Narrow-leaf Cottonwood

Salicaceae (Willow Family)

Synonym(s): Populus balsamifera var. angustifolia, Populus canadensis var. angustifolia, Populus fortissima, Populus salicifolia, Populus tweedyi, Populus ×sennii

USDA Symbol: poan3

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

Narrow-leaf cottonwood is a small, deciduous tree, growing 45-60 ft., with a rather narrow crown and slender twigs. Bark is less deeply furrowed than the broad-leaved cottonwoods. Toothed, yellow-green leaves are narrow and willow-like. Tree with narrow, conical crown of slender, upright branches and with resinous, balsam-scented buds.

Discovered in 1805 by Lewis and Clark on their expedition to the Northwest, this is the common cottonwood of the northern Rocky Mountains. It is easily distinguishable from related species by the narrow, short-stalked, willowlike leaves. Its root system makes it suitable for erosion control.


From the Image Gallery

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 60 feet tall.
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May


USA: AZ , CA , CO , ID , MT , NE , NM , NV , OR , SD , TX , UT , WY
Canada: AB , SK
Native Distribution: Alt. to s.e. OR, s. to Trans-Pecos, TX, AZ & n. Mex.
Native Habitat: Stream banks; foothills; high plains

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Wet
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Moist to mesic soils.
Conditions Comments: Female trees produce clouds of cottony seeds each spring that can be a temporary nuisance. To avoid the problem, plant only male trees.


Conspicuous Flowers: yes

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.


Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.

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Web Reference

Webref 3 - Flora of North America (2014) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.

Additional resources

USDA: Find Populus angustifolia in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Populus angustifolia in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Populus angustifolia


Record Modified: 2022-09-23
Research By: TWC Staff

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