Encyclopedia Article


Cottonwoods are tall deciduous trees of the genus Populus that are native to North America and Western Asia. These trees can reach up to 148 feet in height and can be identified by their triangular to diamond shaped leaves and deeply fissured bark. Their common name, cottonwood, is due to their cottony seeds. In the Southwest these trees are commonly found in the wetter areas near rivers, for example in the bosque riparian area along the Rio Grande, which runs from southern Colorado through New Mexico until it becomes the natural border between the states of Texas in the U.S. and Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas in Mexico.

Photo Credit: 

"Inner glow of cottonwoods along the Rio Grande, November 5, 2005" by Mike Pedroncelli is licensed under CC BY-SA.