Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Pacific Northwest Plants: Cottonwoods Trees

For a week now in Bellingham there have been puffy white seeds floating everywhere from the Cottonwood Trees.

Cottonwoods are a type of poplar, with the same quivering leaves. They grow in moist areas, so the wetlands behind our Bellingham condo is a prime spot. Male and female flowers are in separate catkins (long, slim clusters) that appear before the leaves each spring. The female catkin produces the cottony seeds that are blown long distances. It's these fluffy white masses that give the tree its name.


The seeds are very small (1X4 mm) which is remarkable considering they can grow into one of the largest trees in North America, up to 100 feet (30+ metres) high.

Not only are Cottonwoods large, but fast growing, reaching maturity in 10-30 years. As a commercial product, their course wood is best suited for making pallets and shipping crates. As summer changes to fall, the leaves of turn bright yellow and orange, making a warm contrast to the cooling blue skies. -- Margy


  1. Margy: The only thing I don't like is when they put their white cotton on the water and it gets on my fishing line.

  2. I guess people with allergies don't like these trees but luckily I'm not affected. I love cottonwood trees. Not so much the seeds that fly and look like snow in summber but the sheer size of a mature cottonwood and the rustling noise they make even with a light breeze.

  3. That was a great video of the cotton wood fluff. Are you going hame today. If you are have a safe trip.
    ~~Your friend Betty~~

  4. I love these trees...and Love to see the cottony seeds blowing...and they DO grow fast...

  5. I love looking out and seeing a not snow storm from tree debris!