Eastern Cottonwood, eastern poplar, Carolina poplar, cotton tree, white wood
Description: deciduous tree
Place of origin: eastern North America
Urban habitat: commonly found in disturbed wetlands, drainage channels, in vacant lots, rubble dumps, along roadsides and railroad tracks; thrives in moist settings and in full sun.
Ecological function: provides heat reduction in paved areas; tolerant of roadway salt; erosion control, stream and river bank stabilization; food and habitat for wildlife.
History: Populus deltoids is a fast-growing, large hardwood tree that can survive in disturbed areas. Native to eastern North America, it is now also found in Britain. Its flattened petioles catch the slightest breeze, causing the leaves to quiver. The bark and leaves of the tree were used widely by Native American tribes for treatment of a variety of ailments, including debility in women, bruises, boils, sores, syphilis, intestinal worms, tuberculosis, whooping cough and snakebites. Its inner bark and sap was also consumed as food. Many tribes used its leaves to produce paints and dyes in various colors and its trunk used in construction and burned for fuel. The leaves are rich in protein and have a greater animo-acid content than wheat, rice and barley.