The Western Cottonwood Tree

The Western Cottonwood Tree

Last Updated on January 2, 2020 by Paul Guzman

The Western Cottonwood tree (Poplar Family) goes by many names including the following.

  1. Rio Grande Cottonwood
  2. The Fremonti Cottonwood
  3.  Alamo Cottonwood

They are the same tree and will grow up to 60ft. in height and about 30ft. in width.

The Western Cottonwood Tree

The Western Cottonwood Tree


The Western Cottonwood likes water and will grow close to riverbanks and places where there is water nearby.  Their root system is extensive so planting one near water pipes or water features is not a good idea.  Most nurseries will have the cottonless Western Cottonwood.

Where to plant this tree

Plant it in full sun and away from buildings and sidewalks.  It can tolerate poor soil but needs plenty of water.  You can place it where water tends to drain during a rainstorm.  The Southwest does not receive a lot of water it is important to water your tree often during early summer months even after the tree becomes established.

Their branches are softwood and could break off easily it the tree is old or is infected with insects or diseases.  The key to keeping this tree looking good is water and fertilize often especially in areas where there is little rainfall.

The leaves are a dark green in color and will turn a nice gold yellow during the fall seasons.  It will produce lots of leaves this means there is maintenance during the fall.  The leaves can be used for mulching purposes and is a good tree for shade purposes.

The Western Cottonwood Tree Leaves


Problems with the Western Cottonwood

As noted earlier the wood is soft and is susceptible to borers, caterpillars, aphids and other diseases.  Go here to learn how to remove pests and diseases.  It can tolerate temperatures down to -30°.

USDA Hardiness Zones 3-9

Find your hardiness zone.




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    • Dan Dabney
    • August 24, 2021

    Right at the top it says cottonwood trees like water. Then nothing else, I’m trying to find water consumption of cottonwood trees. We are in a serious drought, some useful info would be more helpful!

    1. Reply

      Hello, Dan. Yes, we are in some serious drought times. The Cottonwood tree does require lots of water that is why they thrive in riverbanks and places where they can suck up water nearby. There are other trees that require less water like the Chinese Pistache, Honey Mesquite, and the Palo Verde trees. There are others but these are good trees that will tolerate drought conditions.

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