Cottonwood Trees – Facts About These Cool Trees

cottonwood treesCottonwood trees grow throughout the south-west and into the Rocky Mountains.  Here are some fun facts about these magnificent trees.

I have very strong memories of cottonwood trees because I have come across them a lot in my explorations of Utah and the Rockies.  Personally, I find that certain kinds of trees have a special kind of majesty.  Maybe it has something to do with their age or size, but whatever the reason I love it.  For me Cottonwood trees definitely fall into that category of tree that possess that special quality.

cottonwood trees

Photo via Flickr.

Fun Facts About Cottonwood Trees

These common trees of the Rocky Mountains can grow very tall and broad.  Mature trees can be as tall as 120 feet.  Not only are they tall, but their crown spreads very wide.

cottonwood trees

The bark of an older cottonwood tree is deeply furrowed.

The bark is deeply furrowed.  This simply means that the bark is not smooth, but has lots of deep cracks or ravines that usually run vertically.

cottonwood trees

An example of cottonwood seed snow. Photo via Flickr.

One of the special things about these trees are the seeds.  The seeds look like fluffy white cotton.  For a couple of weeks in summer the seeds float on the air and can cover the ground in what almost looks like a blanket of snow.

I have a fond memory of hanging out inside of Zion National Park with my kids when they were still tiny.  There was one huge cottonwood tree in a grassy area that was seeding.  We ran around and played with the fluffy cotton for a long time.

cottonwood trees

A cottonwood tree along the Colorado River. Photo via Flickr.

They tend to grow along waterways (rivers and streams) or near water at lower elevations.  In fact, in a lot of areas along the amazing rivers of Utah these trees provide much sought after relief from the intense summer sun.  There do not tend to be thick groves of them, but just one or two tall trees reaching high above the surrounding vegetation.

cottonwood trees

A leaf of a cottonwood tree.

The leaves are heart shaped with wavy-toothed edges.  They are similar in appearance to the leaves of an Aspen tree, but they are much larger.

As with most trees, there are several different species of cottonwood trees.  Three that can be found in the Rockies include Black Cottonwood, Narrowleaf Cottonwood, and the Plains Cottonwood.