Thread: Cottonwood question

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Northern Minnesota-zone 3

    Cottonwood question

    I planted a "Siouxland" Cottonwood in 2007. Growth has been vigorous this year with lots of lush growth with huge leaves. I've noticed, however, that the bark on the main stem is "splitting" and there is fibrous brown stuff poking through. It runs up from near the base of the tree to about chest level (5 feet or so)...

    I know cottonwood bark becomes furrowed as time goes on. Is this natural? Could it be splitting because of strong winds? Is it the beginnings of some god awful canker?

    I don't have much experience with cottonwoods.

    My best guess would be wind damage from the tree bending too much. At our cabin we have several Aspens that are young and very lanky... in strong winds the bark split in places.. but has since healed.

    The tree currently shows no signs of stress... no leaf drop, no aggressive sprouting... but of course it could be too soon to tell.

    What are your thoughts? I'll try to get some pictures up.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Northern Minnesota-zone 3

    RE: Cottonwood question


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006

    RE: Cottonwood question

    OK Snowguy, I know nothing of the cultivar of Cottonwood you have there but it looks identicle to the ones my wife and I dug up in a vacant lot in Cincy, Oh. We brought them to what is now our home in Knoxville, Tn. 19 years ago and they looked just like that while juvinile. They are now 60+ ft tall and the furrowing gaps look black. What's awesome is these 2 trees are naturalizing in this area with babies around my spring and the creek that borders our property. They are native to this area but were logged out early in the 20th cent. What we have are just wild Eastern Cottonwoods. Very hardy.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Northern Minnesota-zone 3

    RE: Cottonwood question

    Well, I believe the "Siouxland" is a cultivar of the "Plains Cottonwood" which is a subspecies of Cottonwood that grows further west. I think the main difference is that the leaves have bigger "teeth" and have a more triangular pattern.

    Siouxland is a very popular cultivar for yards and windscreens because of its fast growth, lack of cotton (it's a male), relatively strong limbs, hardiness in drought... and most importantly, resistance to disease.

    I'm not too worried about it because I know this is probably just how the tree behaves. Already the area near the ground is starting to get those black areas that you mentioned... but man, you should see that thing bend in a stiff wind. I swear I've seen it bent at a 90 degree angle and the thing doesn't flinch.

    It also hasn't had any leaf drop since the first summer I planted it... but growth in 2008 and 2009 was not spectacular.. the tree is visibly much large now (probably twice the volume), but both 2008 and 2009 were poor years for warmth loving tree species. 2008 saw one of the latest springs on record, a cool, very dry summer, and a relatively quick end in September. 2009 also saw a late spring, the coldest July we've ever had as well as two hard freezes in June (the first time since the 1910s) as well as frost in late August. This year saw a very forward spring though it cooled off towards late spring when things green up (very typical for a dying El Niņo)... but all the rain and cool in June followed by the hot and humid weather late in June and ealry July... and the thing is thriving.

    Since my soil conditions are so horrid nutrient and water holding-wise (though ideal for deep, expansive root development)... I give the tree fertilizer each spring. I also let the hose run at a strong trickle for an hour or so whenever it hasn't rained for a while.

    You literally cannot over water anything in my soil. That is not an exaggeration. I did the test of digging a two foot hole and filling it with water, and it was empty in about 6 minutes... I was absolutely shocked when the guide said "if it takes 30 minutes to an hour, your soil is well drained)... yeah... well drained is the understatement of the century.

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