Cottonwood buds

SherryA
SherryA Posts: 314 ✭✭✭
edited March 2021 in Herbal Medicine-Making

The electric company is cutting down a huge cottonwood tree in my neighbor's yard. It's just a couple of feet from MY yard, and they're working from my yard. I mourn the big tree. But I'm hoping I can harvest a bunch of cottonwood buds to make medicine. I know they'll haul off the limbs and brush but they can't get them all. And they have to go to lunch, right? 😏 Wish me luck!


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Comments

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,507 admin

    @figsagee Wow! That is going to supply you with years worth of medicine! What are you going to make?

  • SherryA
    SherryA Posts: 314 ✭✭✭

    I'm hoping to infuse oil to make salve, if the buds aren't dried up.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,507 admin

    I have seen buds open up even on downed limbs, once they start to get warm. So maybe bring some inside (a garage maybe) and see if they fatten up and get resiney. I have made tincture as well. Both in a high percentage alcohol and in rubbing alcohol. I use the rubbing alcohol tincture to put in liniments (mixed with wormwood and arnica tinctures). I love making salve with cottonwood bud. Great on its own but makes an excellent joint and muscle salve when mixed 50/50 with cayenne oil.

  • SherryA
    SherryA Posts: 314 ✭✭✭

    Those are great ideas! I harvested some buds from fallen branches in the fall, but there was no resin in them at all. I'm hoping that was a timing issue, as I've heard we should harvest in late winter or early spring. I'm hoping they'll be fat and juicy by now.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,507 admin

    You look like you have less snow on the ground than I do, so you are probably closer to spring than I am. My buds won't be ready for another couple of months.

  • SherryA
    SherryA Posts: 314 ✭✭✭

    @torey We are having a warm spell right now (32 degrees) but we won't have spring for at least a couple of months. Last week it was below zero.

    I brought in a couple of branches just to try them out. The small buds are pretty sticky with resin, but the fatter ones seem dry. Does that seem right? I expected the fat ones to be juicier.

    If I keep them for a while to let them plump up, do I need to leave the buds on the branch?

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,507 admin

    Yes, @figsagee . Leave the buds on the branches. You could even put the broken ends of the branches in a bit of water. If they are already sticky then you could use them right away but leave the others to get sticky. Its too bad they weren't doing this in a few weeks. But maybe if you were to become friendly with the company that is doing the tree removal, they might tell you when they are doing other trimming or falling and let you come and do some harvesting. You could do the same with spruce tips in the spring if they are removing any of those. I'm sure a plate of cookies or cakes at coffee break would get you in their good books, so to speak. Or maybe promise them a jar of salve?

  • SherryA
    SherryA Posts: 314 ✭✭✭

    Well, my hands are a sticky mess so there's something in those buds! The guys are very nice and said they'll save some branches for me. I've already picked up quite a few. They told me that they feed the small budding branches to the giraffes at the zoo! I never knew that.

    I might just make a small batch of infused oil and maybe tincture from the good buds here. There's another cottonwood tree still so I should be able to pick up some more off the ground in a couple of months.

    Thanks for your help @torey!

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,507 admin

    You are very welcome @figsagee . When I am out picking I take a small bottle of rubbing alcohol with me so that I am not stuck to the steering wheel driving home.

    Giraffes,eh? Never would have thought! Glad they are not going to waste.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,361 admin

    Very excellent! 😍🙌

    If you can tincture some and make a salve with others, you can make a very powerful lotion, as both methods will preserve different constituents. Combine them & you have greatness!

    I will second leaving the buds on the branches. They will retain what is needed to push into the buds what you need. Putting the freshly cut ends in water is how pussy willow branches are forced in nurseries for Easter celebrations, so I could see this as being beneficial in your case too.

    Those will be healthy giraffes!

  • SherryA
    SherryA Posts: 314 ✭✭✭

    And all the giraffes' aches and pains will be gone! 😊 I'm going to grab as many branches as I can and keep them in water in the garage.

  • SherryA
    SherryA Posts: 314 ✭✭✭

    Oh my. I've got the buds in oil in a very low heat double boiler, and it already smells divine. I'm encouraged!

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,507 admin

    @figsagee I'm glad you are having a good experience with this bounty you have received. Cottonwood is such wonderful medicine. Have you been to Rosalee de la Foret's page on Cottonwood? https://www.herbalremediesadvice.org/cottonwood-benefits.html

  • SherryA
    SherryA Posts: 314 ✭✭✭

    @torey Yes, I have seen her page. Another one I like is Cedar Mountain Herb School. https://www.cedarmountainherbs.com/cottonwood-and-willow-natures-pain-relievers/

    Such fun!

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,507 admin

    Rosalee de la Foret has just released a new (free) Cottonwood e-book that is part of her new Wild Remedies book which has just opened for pre-sales. This is a link to both: https://learningherbs.com/remedies-recipes/cottonwood/

  • Linda Bittle
    Linda Bittle Posts: 1,500 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @torey I came to mention this, too.

    Rosalee de la Foret is my go-to herbalist! Emily Han is stellar, too. I preordered this ass soon as I saw it. It will be a valuable book for any herbalist or wildcrafter.

  • soeasytocraft
    soeasytocraft Posts: 237 ✭✭✭

    Thats awesome for you receive much bounty. But too bad the huge tree had to go!

    I've been thinking about cottonwood lately and remembering carving faces into some thick bark that was given to me. It was so much fun but I don't think we have any growing anywhere near us.

    We have it's cousin Black Poplar in your backyard and in the spring find its fluff a bit annoying. I wonder if any part of this species useful like Cottonwood? If so the fluff would be forgiven.

  • soeasytocraft
    soeasytocraft Posts: 237 ✭✭✭

    Thanks for the link to Cedar Mountain Herbs. I have a broken finger that is needing surgery. Better find me some willow bark soon!

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,361 admin
    edited February 2020

    @torey @Mary Linda Bittle I was going to do that too but got distracted yesterday! How funny.

    I have been watching the very few huge local cottonwoods. I am thinking the time is near...my issue is that there are no broken branches & I am not sure that I can reach much.

    I have read that other poplars (such as balsam) work as well. We have what locals call white poplar & black poplar. One fuzzes lots once the grass has been green (black poplar.) The other isn't quite as extreme.

    Has anyone here successfully started a cottonwood from seed? I would like to try.

  • shllnzl
    shllnzl Posts: 1,816 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Laurie The property I bought has young cottonwood trees that started from seed where sprinklers were installed, right next to other established plants. I am unhappy that I will have to kill the cottonwoods (or try anyway) because the locations the seeds chose are too close to the house for a full grown tree of that size. The mother trees are at the far end of the property near a stream that fills during the rainy season. It is unclear at this time if any of the mother trees are actually on my property.

    I'll have to see if my husband will take a hike with me in search of broken branches. Other property owners shouldn't mind if I clean up broken branches.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,507 admin

    Cottonwood has subspecies. My information says that the species we have here, west of the Rockies, is Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa (aka Black Cottonwood, Black Poplar), East of the Rockies it is Populus balsamifera ssp. balsamifera (aka Balsam Poplar, Balsam Cottonwood). There is another species in Eastern North America, Populus deltoides (aka Eastern Cottonwood).

    Other Populus species include: P. tremuloides (Quaking or Trembling Aspen) (widespread). P. angustifolia (Narrow-leaf Cottonwood) (Central North America).

    There may be some hybrids between species and there are a lot of introduced, landscape species that may hybridize with local species.

    @Laurie I have never heard of anyone growing a tree from seed. I checked online and there is a company in New York (Sheffields Seeds) that sells them. There are other sources for seed but they are hybrids being used for shelter belts, etc.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,361 admin

    @shllnzl If I were closer, I would take all of your young ones! Sadly for both of us, I am not.

    I wonder if I could get some started & keep them going.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,361 admin

    @torey I am thinking of collecting seeds from the huge old trees by the ditch.

    I am so surprised that the municipality has left them. They spray, cut & mangle all sorts of trees. Somehow these have only been trimmed when branches began to overhang & were dangerous to passing vehicles. That is all that they did to them. We have only 5 or 6 along the roads in our huge municipality.

    We had 2 in the bush by our place until the farmer here pushed one giant down. If I had only known then about the buds. At the time, I was just upset about losing the giant tree.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,507 admin

    @Laurie Here are the instructions listed from Sheffields:

    Scarification: Soak in water, let stand in water for 6 hours.

    Stratification: none required.

    Germination: No pre-germination treatment required; sow immediately, surface sow and keep moist.

    Good Luck! Keep us posted on how things go.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,361 admin

    @torey I will! Thanks for the instructions.

  • shllnzl
    shllnzl Posts: 1,816 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Laurie My volunteer cottonwoods grew in among Texas Sage bushes and some Red Yucca grown against a very large rock. I won't be able to dig them up without destroying any adjacent plants, so we'll see if they come back from the roots again.

    I'm thinking that the seeds attached themselves next to the irrigation sprinkler and the other plants shaded the baby plants for some time.

    (I also have a Rocky Mountain Maple that grew up into the Red Photina landscape plants. That special tree gets to live where it is at, and the very large Photina just has to share the resources.)

    The previous owners of this place did not pay much attention to the fine points of landscaping. Hopefully I will be a better gardener even when I get busy.

  • SherryA
    SherryA Posts: 314 ✭✭✭

    @Mary Linda Bittle I have preordered Rosalee's newest book, too! I love the Alchemy of Herbs book. I have, of course, downloaded and devoured her cottonwood ebook. 😊

  • SherryA
    SherryA Posts: 314 ✭✭✭

    @soeasytocraft In the end, they didn't take the whole tree. There are two big trees a few feet apart, and they took half of each tree to make lots of room for the electric lines. Both trees are now very lopsided. I hope they are ok but I guess we have to assume these guys know what they're doing when it comes to trees.

    Meanwhile, my very shady corner now has a fair bit of light and I can plan a new garden bed!

  • Amy
    Amy Posts: 35 ✭✭✭

    I am in South Dakota and buds on my Cottonwoods do not appear until late March or early April depending on the cold temperature. I love all the posts here. I make a salve and add Lavender. I like the idea of adding cayenne oil. That will be my project this year!