Cottonwood - Populus Aigeiros
Cottonwood trees are native to Wisconsin and can be found throughout the state, but they are most common in the southern and eastern regions. They are the fastest-growing trees in North America, and they can reach heights of over 100 feet with a trunk up to 9 ft diameter.
Cottonwoods have a distinctive light gray bark that peels off in strips. Their leaves are large and heart-shaped, and they turn yellow in the fall. Due to the flat stem of the leaf, the leaf has the tendency to shake from even the slightest breeze. This is one of the identifying characteristics.They are known for their fluffy seed pods, which are released in the spring and can be a nuisance for allergy sufferers. However, they are also important trees for wildlife, as they provide food and shelter for many species.
It needs bare soil and full sun for successful germination and establishment; in natural conditions, it usually grows near rivers, with mud banks left after floods providing ideal conditions for seedling germination; human soil cultivation has allowed it to increase its range away from such habitats.
The largest cottonwood tree in Wisconsin is the Montello Cottonwood, which is located in Marquette County. It is over 200 years old and has a trunk circumference of over 30 feet.