(Salicaceae Populus deltoides)
Adopted in 1972.
The American Elm, Salicaceae Populus
deltoides, was named as Nebraska's first
state tree on Feb. 15, 1937, when a
resolution introduced by Sen. Alois
Slepicka of Wilber was passed. It was
chosen because it was: Known throughout
Nebraska for its beauty, and because of
its historical background, it being the
tree under which George Washington sat
while signing a treaty."
The 1972 Legislature named the
cottonwood (Populus deltoides marsh)
as the state tree. The bill, introduced
by Sen. Calvin Carsten of Avoca,
orginally called for the green ash to be
the state tree, but was amended in favor
of the cottonwood. The cottonwood often
is associated with pioneer Nebraska.
Several famous early landmarks were
cottonwood trees and their shoots were
often collected by settlers who planted
them on their claims. Today, the
cottonwood grows throughout the state.
The green ash was designated as the 1972
Arbor Day Centennial Tree.
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
- 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
- Bark: Smooth, gray to
yellow-green when young. Later
turning gray with thick ridges and
- Form: A large tree with a
clear bole and an open spreading
crown resulting in a somewhat
||Plantae -- Plants
||Spermatophyta – Seed
||Salicaceae – Willow
||Populus L. –
Bartr. ex Marsh. – eastern
Dendrology at Virginia Tech
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Source: Nebraska Bluebook, 1994-95,