Trees of Big Sur and the Santa Lucia Mountains of Central California

Black Cottonwood Populus trichocarpa

Black Cottonwood is the tallest and largest of the poplar family growing over to four feet in diameter and 90 to 150 ft. tall. This deciduous tree is almost always found in riparian habitats or where there is surface water near by. The leaves are alternate, ovate to triangular in shape with very fine serration. The under sides of the leaves are paler green and sometimes show a light rust color.

black cottonwood leaves in spring
Young spring leaves in a young Black Cottonwood.

black cottonwood
A young Back Cottonwood.

black cottonwood leaves on older mature treeDarker leaves in a mature Black Cottonwood. Notice the hint of rust color on the undersides of the deep green leaves.

Black Cottonwood Bark
The bark of the young trees and upper limbs of older trees are smooth whitish-gray. Older more mature trees will have deeply furrowed rough thick bark that is darker (see below).

Black Cottonwood Bark

Black Cottonwood Fall color
The Black Cottonwood leaves turn yellow in late fall and drop for the winter. On the edge of an open meadow this tree stands out against the other tree species that share the riparian (river or steamside) habitat. On the left are Redwoods and Alder on the right is Bay and Willows.

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