Rio Grande cottonwood

Populus deltoides wislizeni

Rio Grande Cottonwood 6

Cottonwoods are the biggest and most beautiful trees in the Bosque. Populus deltoides wislizenii is cottonwood’s botanical name. Cottonwoods are always close to water and they grow up to 30 meters tall. Cottonwoods are dioecious which means they are separate male and female trees. Their leaves are triangular and their seeds are attached to tufts of cotton-like hairs.
The Rio Grande Bosque is the home of the cottonwood. They need floods to grow their seeds. The Bosque has not had a flood since the 1940s. There are many old trees but few young ones cottonwood has to compete against non-native and invasive Russian olive and salt cedar. Cottonwood is stronger than salt cedar and Russian olive if flooding occurs. Cottonwood also provides shelter and food for animals. Cottonwood has many medicinal uses. You can collect leaf buds in early spring, leaves in midsummer, and bark in late fall or spring. Cottonwoods are useful whenever aspirin may be used because it contains salicin, which is used to treat fevers and urinary infections. The bark makes digestive bitters used for indigestion, poor appetite and fevers. The leaf buds are used for muscle aches, sprains, and joint pain. You can prepare leaf buds in oil or alcohol and also use then for injuries, burns and thick mucus. Native Americans used the leaves for toothaches and cuts and scrapes.
Cottonwood is also used for making many things. Roof support beams were made out of cottonwood trunks and branches. Cottonwood are related to aspens and both are used for drums because they rot in the middle and they sound good. The biggest drums are made of cottonwood trunks. Boats and rafts usually made out of cottonwood. The roots were used for kachinas. Catkins are the flowers on cottonwood and are eaten as a vegetable. The bark was used for firing pots.

Cottonwood , or Populus deltoids wislizenii , has many traditional uses. Some of the medicinal uses are for tooth aches, cuts , burns , mucus, and digestive problems. Here are some of its other uses: support beams , drums , boats, kachinas and food. If I were to continue my research, I would find out where else they grow.

References

Carlton, Jean, E., David C. Lightfoot, Jane E. Mygatt, Sandra L. Brantlye, & Timothy K. Lowrey (2008). A field guide to the plants and animals of the Rio Grande bosque. University of New Mexico Press: Albuquerque, NM.

Dunmire, William W., & Gail D. Tierney (1995). Wild plants of the pueblo province. Museum of New Mexico Press: Santa Fe, NM.

Moore, Michael (2003). Medicinal plants of the mountain west. Museum of New Mexico Press: Santa Fe, NM.

by Mica, age 9 6

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