Monday, August 4, 2008

Native Plants Of California ~ #10 In A Series

The black cottonwood is a remarkable tree in several regards. Not only is it the tallest western hardwood, it also contains the largest number of genes ever discovered in any living organism. Sometimes called black balsam poplar or California poplar, the black cottonwood grows locally in the southern California mountains and into northern Baja. It grows widely in British Columbia, Washington State, Oregon and Idaho, as well, as its cottony seeds are carried easily on the wind and water for great distances.

This deciduous, broadleaf tree is grown for lumber, its wood is used for magazines and books and it makes an excellent plywood. Reaching maturity after only 4-6 years, it easily attains heights of 60-120 feet and is often planted as windbreaks or to bind soil along river and stream banks, as its deep rooting system prevents erosion. Oil extracted from its buds has a pleasing balsam scent and is used for perfumes and cosmetics.

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