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For bird habitat in a hurry, Eastern Cottonwood is at your service! This mighty American shade tree grows faster than just about any tree you can buy, each year becoming more and more valuable to your avian friends. A host to countless caterpillars, beetles, bugs, leafhoppers, aphids, and spiders, Cottonwood is a godsend to insectivorous birds such as bluebirds, grosbeaks, indigo buntings, tanagers, warblers, vireos, and orioles. With such a nice selection of food close by, some lucky birds will build their nest right in the tree. In time, cavities may open up in old trees, offering additional living space for woodpeckers, owls, flickers, and bluebirds.
Take Birds Under Your Wing
New! Introducing our bird-friendly collection of Audubon® Native Plants & Trees
- Better for Birds, 100% Neonic-Free
- Not Available in non-native regions, states or counties (see Native Regions map)
Bower & Branch is proud to grow Audubon® Native Plants for Birds in partnership with the National Audubon Society to help birds and other wildlife thrive.
- The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow
- This bird-friendly native plant provides food and shelter for local and migrating birds and other wildlife
- Your purchase and planting of this native flora directly supports Audubon’s conservation mission and impact
- Learn how you can help birds in your home and community through Audubon’s Plants for Birds program
- Audubon Native Plants & Trees are free of neonicotinoids and exclusively grown by Bower & Branch
Audubon® is a licensed and registered trademark of the National Audubon Society. All rights reserved.
Size AA (2-3' tall) container grown
Size B (8-9' tall) container grown
- Hardiness Zone: 2-9
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Eastern Cottonwood is predominantly a midwestern and Plains-states tree. Its native range runs from Montana to Texas (“The Alamo” means “The Cottonwood”), and eastward to North Carolina. Populations are spotty in New England and the southern Appalachians. This is a tree of riverbanks and bottomlands, where the steady moisture spurs it on to grow very fast and very large. Lone specimens also grow out in the open and provide welcome shade to livestock and wildlife on the Plains. Cottonwood gets its name from the abundance of fluffy white seeds that female trees release in late spring. Birds gather the fluffy stuff for lining their nests.
When we think of butterfly gardens, we do not usually think of massive shade trees, but caterpillar food is just as important to butterfly survival as flowers are, and Eastern Cottonwood is great caterpillar food. It services viceroys, red-spotted purples, Lorquin’s admirals, tiger swallowtails, mourning cloaks, and dreamy duskywings.
How to Grow
Not for small properties! Eastern Cottonwood quickly gets huge. It will grow four to five feet per year and may eventually reach 100 feet tall and have a trunk six feet thick. It also tends to drop branches in bad storms. Don’t plant it near buildings, swimming pools, or city streets. Do plant it in large, open spaces with all-day sun and light, loamy soil. Though primarily a river-loving tree, Eastern Cottonwood can be remarkably drought tolerant. Give it plenty of irrigation at least during the first couple of years of establishment.
This graphic shows the approximate size and form of the Tree you are viewing.
Size B Trees:
8-9' tall, grown and delivered in a container. This tree is BIG! One strong person can lift this tree although two would make it easier. A truck or trailer will be needed to bring this native home.
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