USA Official State Tree of Kansas

Eastern CottonwoodTree, a state symbol

(Salicaceae Populus deltoides)
Adopted in 1937.

Eastern cottonwood, Salicaceae Populus deltoides, one of the largest eastern hardwoods, is short-lived but the fastest-growing commercial forest species in North America.





It grows best on moist well-drained sands or silts near streams, often in pure stands. The lightweight, rather soft wood is used primarily for core stock in manufacturing furniture and for pulpwood. Eastern cottonwood is one of the few hardwood species that is planted and grown specifically for these purposes.

Besides the typical eastern variety (var. deltoides), there is a western variety, plains cottonwood (var. occidentalis). Its leaves, more broad than long, are slightly smaller and more coarsely toothed than the typical variety.


Article 10.--STATE TREE
KSA 73-1001. Designation. The tree known as the cottonwood is hereby designated and declared to be the official tree of the state of Kansas.
History: L. 1937, ch. 318, sec. 1; June 30.
  • Size: 80 - 100 feet with 40 - 60 ft. Spread
  • Growth: Rapid; moderate to long life span.
  • Leaf: Alternate, simple, pinnately veined, 3 to 6 inches long, triangular (deltoid) in shape with a crenate/serrate margin. The petiole is flattened and glands are present at the top of the petiole.
  • Flower: Dioecious, male and female as pendulous catkins, appearing before the leaves.
  • Fruit: Cottony seeds, 1/4 inch long borne in a dehiscent capsule. Maturing over summer.
  • Twig: Stout, somewhat angled and yellowish. Buds are 3/4 inch long, covered with several brown, resinous scales. Has a bitter aspirin taste.
  • Bark: Smooth, gray to yellow-green when young. Later turning gray with thick ridges and deep furrows.
  • Form: A large tree with a clear bole and an open spreading crown resulting in a somewhat vase-shaped form.


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom Plantae -- Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta -- Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass Dilleniidae –
Order Salicales –
Family Salicaceae – Willow family
Genus Populus L. – cottonwood
Species Populus deltoides Bartr. ex Marsh. – eastern cottonwood


Dendrology at Virginia Tech
U.S. Department of Agriculture