Populus fremontii     
Western cottonwood   
Salicaceae Family     

Compiled by the Master Gardeners
of the University of Arizona Pima County Cooperative Extension.


Form: large open-crowned tree with massive trunk and branches
Seasonality: deciduous
cottonwood tree
Populus fremontii in a park
Size: 50ft, spread to 3/4 height; can reach 100ft along perennial water sources; fast growth
Leaves: simple, 2-3in across, bright green; glisten in wind; fall color an attractive gold (see notes)
Flowers: dioecious; catkins on males; reputable source is critical because female plants are highly undesirable
Fruit: clusters of capsules containing small seeds (female plants only); capsules release cotton-like substance which readily becomes airborne and is a litter nuisance
Stems/Trunks: massively branched
Range/Origin: throughout the US in elevations up to 6000ft; riparian areas of Arizona
Hardiness: well below 32°F


close-up of leaf
leaf form


aka Fremont cottonwood
Fall color is only seen in regions with gradual temperature changes. In Tucson, some years the change to cold season temperatures may occur too abruptly, and the leaves drop without ever turning gold.

Because of its huge water requirements, Populus fremontii is not suited for use in Tucson. There is still a demand for it however, and newly planted specimens may do well for a few years. At some point the size of the tree will exceed the ability to artificially irrigate it, and it will decline and die.

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This page was first created August 2, 2002 and last modified June 1, 2006.

Web page design and photographs by Toni Moore, Master Gardener
email to: tmoore1@flash.net

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