Narrowleaf Cottonwood

Narrowleaf Cottonwood (Populus angustifolia)

Narrowleaf Cottonwood

(Populus angustifolia)


Family: Salicaceae or Willow (Poplar)

Leaves: Lanceolate to ovate-lanceolate; 2" to 4" long, 1/2" to 1-1/2" wide; narrowest leaf of the cottonwoods found in Utah; long, tapered apex; deciduous; finely to coarsely serrate; petiole short (less than 1/3 length of blade) and not flattened laterally.

Twigs/buds: Twigs slender; round; glabrous; yellow-green when young and light gray when older. Terminal bud 1/4" to 3/4" long, sharp-pointed, resinous and aromatic, covered by brown overlapping scales.

Flowers/fruit: Fruit an oval capsule, 1/4" long, several together on a slender stalk like a string of beads; seeds tufted, small, light brown.

Bark: Smooth and light yellow-green when young, becoming shallowly furrowed on older trunks.

Wood: Unimportant and seldom used. See eastern cottonwood for description.

General: Native in from western Great Plains through the Intermountain West from Mexico to Canada, including most of Utah. Grows along streams at moderate to low elevations; prefers moist soils and is shade intolerant. Utah's most common native cottonwood. Crowns tend to be somewhat narrow. Easily identified by its narrow leaves, but can hybridize with some cottonwoods. One common hybrid is lanceleaf cottonwood (Populus x acuminata), a cross between P. angustifolia and either P. deltoides, P. fremontii, or P. balsamifera.

Landscape Use: Rarely used and no cultivars are available. Would be alright where a cottonwood is appropriate (needs plenty of water). Cottonwoods and willows can easily be propagated by taking 10" or longer cuttings off of young branches in the winter and planting them in the spring with about an inch showing above ground. The resulting tree is genetically identical to the original. Zones 3-9.

Comments & Limitations

- Weak wood and/or branch structure.
- Prefers abundant water. 

Narrowleaf Cottonwood crowns in Fall color
  Narrowleaf Cottonwood Crown   Narrowleaf Cottonwood Landscape
  Crowns, Fall Color
  Crown   Landscape