Cottonwood Trees

July 15, 2021



Photographer: Roger Hopkins:[[email protected]]
Summary Author: Roger Hopkins:[[email protected]]

These two stately Eastern Cottonwood trees (Populus deltoides) were photographed in southwest Colorado. Mesa Verde National Park can be seen in the background.

The left tree is a male, and the right tree is a female. So for a few days during spring, the tree on the left has red catkins, while the one on the right has green catkins. Once pollinated, the catkins on the male will fall off while the ones on the female will develop into seed capsules with tiny seeds attached to cotton-like strands. When released in early summer, the seeds give the species its common name. After these trees are leafed out and the seeds are shed, there’s no visible difference between the sexes. Nor can any such difference be detected once the leaves fall. Photo taken on May 3, 2021.

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