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Black Cottonwood

Scientific Name:

Populus trichocarpa






Western North America


Least Concern (IUCN Red List)

This species is


to the Truckee Meadows.


Black cottonwoods leaves are fine-toothed and lance-shaped. Their leaves are more pointed than those of Fremont cottonwoods. The underside of the leaves are silvery, while the tops of the leaves are glossy and dark green. The buds are large and resinous and, when squeezed, produce an amber-to-red staining on fingers. Flowers in spring are purple/red. These trees grow between 100 and 200 feet tall.

Fast Facts:

  • Black cottonwoods are both the largest American poplars and largest hardwood tree in  western North America.

  • Cottonwoods can grow simply from a branch placed in the soil; the branch will form roots and grow into a new tree.

  • Black cottonwoods need a lot of moisture to grow, so in the Truckee Meadows thay are most commonly found along the Truckee River. These trees provide shade to the Truckee River, which in turn provides the river with more oxygen as well as hiding places for fish.

  • Black cottonwoods have resinous buds. The resin from the buds coat young leaves in the spring which protects them from insects that would otherwise eat the young growth. The resin from the buds is also used by bees to seal and protect their hives.

  • In the Paiute language, cottonwoods are called Sungabe.



Haley McGuire (research & content)

Alex Shahbazi (edits & page design)

Last Updated:

May 12, 2021 at 7:00:33 PM

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