Cottonwood (Populus fremontii)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Populus fremontii

Strips of the inner bark have been used in garments[229]. This report does not make clear if this was merely for ornament, or whether the bark had a functional use[K].

An extract of the shoots can be used as a rooting hormone for all types of cuttings. It is extracted by soaking the chopped up shoots in cold water for a day[172].

The young twigs are peeled and split then used in basket making[61, 229, 257].

Wood – soft, weak, light, rather woolly in texture, without smell or taste, of low flammability, not durable, very resistant to abrasion[11, 229]. Used locally for fence posts, the trees are also frequently pollarded for fuel[82, 229].

  • Medicinal Use

    The inner bark was consumed by various native North American Indian tribes in order to prevent scurvy[61, 229].

    The bark of most, if not all members of the genus contain salicin, a glycoside that probably decomposes into salicylic acid (aspirin) in the body[213, 238]. The bark is therefore anodyne, anti-inflammatory and febrifuge. It is used especially in treating rheumatism and fevers, and also to relieve the pain of menstrual cramps[238]. An infusion of the bark and leaves has been used to wet a cloth which is then tied around the head as a treatment for headaches[257]. The infusion has also been used as a wash on cuts, bruises, wounds and insect stings[257]. A poultice of the boiled bark and leaves has been used to treat swellings caused by muscle strain[257].

  • Edible Use

    Catkins – raw or cooked[106, 229]. Eaten as a snack[257].

    The young green seedpods have been chewed as a gum[257].

    Inner bark[106]. There are no more details but inner bark is often dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickener in soups etc or added to cereals when making bread.

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – must be sown as soon as it is ripe in spring[113]. Poplar seed has an extremely short period of viability and needs to be sown within a few days of ripening[200]. Surface sow or just lightly cover the seed in trays in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the old frame. If sufficient growth is made, it might be possible to plant them out in late summer into their permanent positions, otherwise keep them in the cold frame until the following late spring and then plant them out. Most poplar species hybridize freely with each other, so the seed may not come true unless it is collected from the wild in areas with no other poplar species growing[11]. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season’s growth, 20 – 40cm long, November/December in a sheltered outdoor bed or direct into their permanent positions. Very easy. Suckers in early spring[78].
An easily grown plant, it does well in a heavy cold damp soil[1]. Prefers a deep rich well-drained circumneutral soil, growing best in the south and east of Britain[11, 200]. Tolerates extremely alkaline soils[200]. Growth is much less on wet soils, on poor acid soils and on thin dry soils[11]. It does not do well in exposed upland sites[11]. It dislikes shade and is intolerant of root or branch competition[200]. A fast-growing but short-lived species[229]. Some forms of this species are tender in Britain[11]. Poplars have very extensive and aggressive root systems that can invade and damage drainage systems. Especially when grown on clay soils, they should not be planted within 12 metres of buildings since the root system can damage the building’s foundations by drying out the soil[11]. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus[200].
South-western N. America – California to Texas.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.