=Habitat and Range.=--In moist soil; river banks and basins, shores of
lakes, not uncommon in drier locations.
Throughout Quebec and Ontario to the base of the Rocky mountains.
Maine,--not reported; New Hampshire,--restricted to the immediate
vicinity of the Connecticut river, disappearing near the northern part
of Westmoreland; Vermont,--western sections, abundant along the shores
of the Hoosac river in Pownal and along Lake Champlain (W. W.
Eggleston); in the Connecticut valley as far north as Brattleboro
(Flora of Vermont, 1900); Massachusetts,--along the Connecticut and
its tributaries; Rhode Island,--occasional; Connecticut,--occasional
eastward, common along the Connecticut, Farmington, and Housatonic
South to Florida; west to the Rocky mountains.
=Habit.=--A stately tree, 75-100 feet in height; trunk 3-5 feet in
diameter, light gray, straight or sometimes slightly inclined, of nearly
uniform size to the point of branching, surmounted by a noble,
broad-spreading, open, symmetrical head, the lower branches massive,
horizontal, or slightly ascending, more or less pendulous at the
extremities, the upper coarse and spreading, rising at a sharper angle;
branchlets stout; foliage brilliant green, easily set in motion; the
sterile trees gorgeous in spring with dark red pendent catkins.
=Bark.=--In old trees thick, ash-gray, separated into deep, straight
furrows with rounded ridges; in young trees light yellowish-green,
smooth; season's shoots greenish, marked with pale longitudinal lines.
=Winter Buds and Leaves.=--Buds large, conical, smooth, shining. Leaves
3-6 inches long, scarcely less in width, variable in color and shape,
ordinarily dark green and shining above, lighter beneath, ribs raised on
both sides; outline broadly ovate, irregularly crenate-toothed; apex
abruptly acute or acuminate; base truncate, slightly heart-shaped or
sometimes acute; stems long, slender, somewhat flattened at right angles
to the plane of the blade; stipules linear, soon falling.
=Inflorescence.=--April to May. In solitary, densely flowered catkins;
bracts lacerate-fringed, each bract subtending a cup-shaped scale;
stamens very numerous; anthers longer than the filaments, dark red:
fertile catkins elongating to 5 or 6 inches; ovary ovoid; stigmas 3 or
4, nearly sessile, spreading.
=Fruit.=--Capsules ovate, rough, short-stalked; seeds densely cottony.
=Horticultural Value.=--Hardy in southern-central New England; grows
rapidly in almost any soil and is readily obtainable in nurseries. Where
an immediate effect is desired, the cottonwood serves the purpose
excellently and frequently makes very fine large individual trees, but
the wood is soft and likely to be broken by wind or ice. Usually
propagated from cuttings.
1. Winter buds.
2. Branch with sterile catkins.
3. Sterile flower, back view.
4. Sterile flower, front view.
5. Scale of sterile flower.
6. Fertile flower.
7. Fruiting catkin.
8. Branch with mature leaves.
9. Variant leaf.
=Populus balsamifera, L.=
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