The plains cottonwood species is native to
often seen growing along creeks and ditches out on the plains. The trees
usually live to about eighty years of age before succumbing to fire, high
winds, or interior rot. The leaves quake with the slightest breeze and the
sound of wind blowing through the branches in summer lulls one’s senses like
waves on a beach. In early summer the female trees release millions of small
brown seeds aloft on fluffy white, cottony parachutes. That cotton sticks to
everything and makes our yard look like it’s been TP’d by teenagers. For that
reason some Colorado cities
insist only hybrid, seedless cottonwoods be planted in town. Colorado
I’ve never named these three cottonwoods but think of them as the old cottonwoods. They have become more beautiful with age for their trunks have such character as the bark thickens and crevices open, then widen in uneven furrows.
Our old cottonwoods have always been popular with crows and squirrels and they now support a swing for the grandkids and provide shade for summer parties. But we know better than to camp beneath them when the wind blows for those heavy branches sometimes let go with no warning and crash to the ground below. I hope they live past their average lifespan of eighty years for that is approaching soon just as I am fast approaching mine.