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Life History and Disturbance Response of Populus deltoides (eastern cottonwood)
Family: Salicaceae
Guild: pioneer, moist-site intolerant
Functional Lifeform: large deciduous tree
Ecological Role: found on moist well-drained soils on open sites along streams and on bottomlands
Lifespan, yrs (typical/max): 60/200
Shade Tolerance: very intolerant
Height, m: 18-50
Canopy Tree: yes
Pollination Agent: wind
Seeding, yrs (begins/optimal/declines): 10/40/60
Mast Frequency, yrs: 1
New Cohorts Source: seeds or sprouts
Flowering Dates: early spring
Flowers/Cones Damaged by Frost: Information Not Found
Seedfall Begins: late spring -- early summer
Seed Banking: seasonal, < 1 month
Cold Stratification Required: no
Seed Type/Dispersal Distance/Agent: plumed/ >200 m/ wind, water
Season of Germination: spring
Seedling Rooting System: shallow, spreading
Sprouting: common on small stems; occasional root sprouts
Establishment Seedbed Preferences:
Substrate: exposed mineral soil
Light: open areas only
Moisture: wet
Temperature: neutral
Disturbance response:
Fire: Eastern cottonwood seedling regeneration is favored following disturbances such as fire and flood. Fire thins the overstory, allowing more light penetration, and exposes the mineral soil so that seeds are able to establish if soil moisture is adequate. When topkilled, most eastern cottonwood trees sprout from adventitious buds in the root collar or from root suckers. Small trees (<20 years old) are highly susceptible to topkill but older trees have very thick, protective bark. Wounded trees often contract heart rot. Seedling establishment may occur from seeds of surviving trees onsite or from offsite seeds carried by wind and water. Prescribed burning is not recommended in bottomland stands where trees are grown for timber and wood quality is important.
Weather: Eastern cottonwood is tolerant of dormant-season flooding, but intolerant of growing-season flooding.
Air pollution: Eastern cottonwood is tolerant to intermediate in sensitivity to sulphur dioxide. Seedlings exhibited reduced height growth under controlled fumigation with ozone. Eastern cottonwoods showed variable response to ozone fumigation among clones.