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Cottonwood trees — The Grow Network Community
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Cottonwood trees

StacyLouStacyLou Southern WisconsinPosts: 89 ✭✭
edited November 2020 in Wild Edibles & Medicinals

What is the best variety of cottonwood tree to have on your property if you want the super sticky resinous buds to harvest for making cottonwood oil?


  • toreytorey Posts: 2,334 admin

    @StacyLou Here is my part of the world, west of the Rockies, it is Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa (aka Black Cottonwood or just Cottonwood) . East of the Rockies is a similar species, Populus balsamifera ssp. balsamifera (aka Balsam Cottonwood, Balsam Poplar, Balm of Gilead or just Cottonwood). There is another species, Populus deltoides (aka Eastern Cottonwood), but as it is from Eastern North America, I am not familiar with the size of the buds. Maybe someone else has this species in their area and could comment on it. I am also not familiar with the buds on any of the domestic Populus species. Never really had to look for anything else as we have access to lots of wild Cottonwood. I went for a short drive yesterday to check on the progress of the buds this spring. Not quite yet. I'm going to give them a few more days.

  • StacyLouStacyLou Southern WisconsinPosts: 89 ✭✭

    Thanks for your response! I've been searching online to find which kind would be best in my neck of the woods, which is WI. Most places sell hybrids, which won't produce the buds. I guess people find the cottonwoods too messy. Before ordering any trees, I just want to make sure I don't end up with ones that don't produce what I want.

  • StacyLouStacyLou Southern WisconsinPosts: 89 ✭✭

    Also, if you happen to come across a treasure trove - I'd love to buy some from you!

  • toreytorey Posts: 2,334 admin

    @StacyLou Sorry, I am in Canada; not sure that I could ship some across the border. Good luck with your search. If you find some in the wild, they grow well from cuttings. You should have Balsam Cottonwood and Eastern Cottonwood; both are native to Wisconsin.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,394 admin

    @torey They grow well from cuttings do they? 🤦‍♀️ I should have thought of looking into that. Now I have something else that I absolutely have to do! So exciting!

    So...would I use willow water or commercial rooting powder? Do you have any idea which might bring the most success?

    @StacyLou The hybrids should have what you need. They are usually cloned males, which don't produce catkins. It is the green buds you are after, not the catkin containing ones. Here is a quote & a link to a great resource on cottonwood buds:

    "When you pinch the buds and see resin inside, it is the perfect time to harvest. You will notice that some of the buds have catkins inside. These do not have as much resin and are less preferred for medicine than the leaf buds."

  • toreytorey Posts: 2,334 admin

    @LaurieLovesLearning One year, in one of our first years of gardening, we cut some very young saplings that were encroaching on our garden and used them for stakes for our pea fence. They sprouted leaves about half way through the season! So no additional treatment of any kind except fertile garden soil. But I would think that either willow water or any kind of root starter that you prefer would aid the rooting. Or starting them in water so you can see how much the roots develop.

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