Types Of Trees In Michigan: Eastern Cottonwood
One of the great things about living in Michigan is that we have a variety of trees to plant in our yards. But the Eastern Cottonwood probably isn’t one of them. And it’s not because it’s the fastest-growing tree in North America.
Fast growth and great shade are reasons enough to love cottonwoods. But these trees have many other endearing qualities that make them worth planting…not at your house, but in the wild.
So, let’s take a look at one of the many types of trees in Michigan, the Eastern Cottonwood, and why you may want to think twice before planting one near your home.
What Eastern Cottonwood Trees Look Like
The Eastern cottonwood is a large-canopied tree with upright limbs that arch at the tips, creating a vase-shaped outline. They’re common trees in Michigan and even up into Canada. The scientific name for cottonwood trees is Populus deltoids.
We already mentioned that it’s fast-growing. A young tree can add 6 feet or more in height each year. The trees can grow to well over 100 feet tall. In fact, some species climb to almost 190 feet. The canopy of a mature tree spreads about 75 feet wide, and the diameter of the trunk averages about 6 feet, once it matures.
In the wild, cottonwood is one of the fastest trees to colonize unplanted areas. That makes them a good choice for areas prone to flooding and soil erosion. They’re also hardy trees. You’ll find them in USDA plant hardiness zones 2 through 9.
The leaves of the Cottonwood trees are simple and are about 3-5 inches long. They’re triangular-shaped leaves, with coarse, curved teeth and a flattened petiole. And because of their size, cottonwood trees make good shade trees when planted in the right location.
Should I Plant An Eastern Cottonwood Tree?
Planting cottonwood trees in home landscapes typically leads to issues. One of the problems with the rapid growth of the Eastern Cottonwood is that it leads to weak wood that is easily damaged. Cottonwood branches break off easily, especially during storms or periods of high wind.
In addition, their massive size makes them hard to fit in all but the largest landscapes. And their aggressive root system seeks out moisture. That means you’ll want to avoid planting near septic systems. That’s because the roots will seek it out and can damage the system. This can create an expensive repair for you. You also don’t want to plant the tree close to your home’s foundation or a sidewalk as the roots can lift the area and cause damage.
Another problem is cotton flying in the breeze. The winds can carry the cotton seeds right to window screens where they’ll stick. They can also block your AC unit, or end up floating in your swimming pool.
These messy trees not only have weak wood, but they’re also prone to disease. They include:
- Slime Flux: This bacterial infection gets its name from the frothy slime that oozes out of the tree bark after infection.
- Canker: It’s easily identified by its sunken, discolored areas of bark. The disease causes dieback as the canker kills the bark and creates an oozing resin from the trunk.
- Aphids, Scale & Mealybug: All three of these insect pests are sucking insects that feed on plant juices.
- Borers: There are a number of borers which are attack cottonwood.
- Leaf Beetles: The cottonwood leaf beetle can completely defoliate a cottonwood tree.
Signs your tree is infected include:
- You notice that there are cracks in the trunk or peeling bark.
- Your cottonwood has mushrooms growing near its roots.
- There are multiple branches that have no living buds.
If you notice one or more of these characteristics, your tree may be in trouble and need to be treated.
Safari Tree Can Help
As you can see, Eastern Cottonwood trees can be a little difficult to take care of. They’re beautiful, no doubt, but have to remain under your watchful eye.
The good news is that Safari Tree has plenty of experience taking care of many types of trees in Michigan, including cottonwood. Our tree care and pest control services will keep your trees thriving all year long.
If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help to keep your yard looking beautiful, contact us today.