Residential Cottonwood Tree Maintenance

Main identifiers:

  • Most common species found in Colorado: The Plains cottonwood (populus deltoides monolifera) is without question the most popular cottonwood tree species in the Denver metro area.
  • Leaf shape and color: Cottonwood tree leaves tend to have a heart-shaped appearance with a serrated edge.
  • Bark texture: Cottonwood tree saplings have smooth bark with a silver-white appearance. As the tree matures, the bark becomes a hardened, dark-gray texture with deep grooves (fissures).

Most common diseases and pests:

The biggest challenge facing cottonwoods in Denver right now is their average life expectancy of approximately 30 years. Many neighbors throughout south Denver were built in the last 1980s through the mid 1990s. In several cases, specifically in the Parker area, developers chose cottonwoods as the primary, if not exclusive tree to plant in their subdivisions. As these trees end their life-cycle, more cottonwoods need removal. Cottonwoods are also highly susceptible to Cytospora Canker and Bacterial Wetwood.

Fremont Cottonwood with Cytospora Canker
Fremont Cottonwood with Cytospora Canker
Cottonwood Tree Cytospera Canker

Cytospera Canker, Picture attribution: Photo courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden
Bacterial Wetwood on Cottonwood tree

Bacterial Wetwood (1), Photo by J. Walla
Bacterial Wetwood on Cottonwood tree

Bacterial Wetwood (2), Photo by W.R. Jacobi
Majestic Plains Cottonwood
Majestic Plains Cottonwood

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