What good is cottonwood?

Mike Corazzi

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Other than making a seasonal mess, is there anything good about cottonwood?
 

GreatLakesBrad

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They grow extremely fast, so developers liked planting them in new developments. At least around here. That’s about it. Think I’m allergic to those floating puffs.
 

HorseloverFat

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I collected a few medium-young specimens.. and ended up returning them to the wild.. I could tell it was gonna be “ a wrestling match” to get them to cooperate.. and I just wasn’t fond enough of the specimens I HAD.. to warrant such a “wrestling match”..
 

Mikecheck123

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I planned a few Fremont cottonwood seeds for fun. Ten feet in two seasons.

But hard chopping was fatal. No thanks!
 

Cruiser

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In the Pacific Northwest they are an early pioneer species and integral part of riparian habitats. Their shade helps keep water temperatures cooler for fish during hotter months. Their rotten trunks provide nesting opportunities for birds. Along water ways, bald eagles appear to love perching in their canopies to scope out prey below.
Timber-wise, they suck. Their wood is wet, weak, and stinky. Often times loggers won’t even cut them, since the cost to haul exceeds value.
 

ShadyStump

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I love cottonwoods:)
Leave it to the Rocky Mountain folks to appreciate real trees.

Granted, you'll likely never find a beautiful yamadori cottonwood, but I imagine they'd take well to air layering, which given their somewhat erratic growth habits should yield some spectacular specimens.
Don't chop and grow like other deciduous. You're essentially using refinement techniques to get where you want to go. They tend toward long internodes, at least from my amateur observations, which is why chopping doesn't work, but also why they are often sought for timber frame construction: fewer knots per length. Also on that topic, they hold moisture well, so tend to cure slowly and evenly, leading to less warping.

Eager to get one in a pot, but lower priority than others while I'm still learning.
 

Colorado

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Plains Cottonwood has some of the gnarliest bark I have seen on a deciduous species! And, here, cottonwoods grow with very acute, angular branching. Some look quite bonsai-esque :)

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But, the buds are huge and branching very coarse, so I have not yet taken the time to experiment with Cottonwood.
 

RKatzin

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At one time the cottonwood was the number one choice for wood shingles for roofing and siding, did someone mention it doesn't burn worth a crap, until it was gradually edged out by the western red cedar. Which is the best kindling in the world and burns hot and fast. Who thought that was a good idea?!
 

ShadyStump

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At one time the cottonwood was the number one choice for wood shingles for roofing and siding, did someone mention it doesn't burn worth a crap, until it was gradually edged out by the western red cedar. Which is the best kindling in the world and burns hot and fast. Who thought that was a good idea?!
Didn't know that. I'll have to keep that in mind. I've been casually looking into timber and lumber production techniques because the cost of building materials has been going up so fast.
 

Michael P

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Besides their ecological value, cottonwoods have wonderful aesthetic qualities in the natural landscape. Their trunks are massive with fissured bark. The leaves are glossy and move in the slightest breeze, making an unmistakable sound. Fall color is bright yellow. No, they aren't good planted in a small suburban property, but whose fault is that?
 

hemmy

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Other than making a seasonal mess, is there anything good about cottonwood?
Them’s fightin’ words! It’s the State Tree of Kansas! Also one of the few big trees on the plains and a sure sign of water. (Also banned in most cities for all the previously posted reasons)
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