Populus deltoides Bartr. ex Marsh.
Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.
- Folk Medicine
- Yields and Economics
- Biotic Factors
The timber is used principally for lumber, veneer, pulpwood, excelsior, and
fuel (Laver, 1981). Widely used in the US and Canada for shelterbelt and
amenity plantings (Ag. Handbook 450). Recently, it has been championed as one
of the leading potential species for silviculture biomass production.
Salicylic acid, derivable from this species, is now synthesized and selling at
ca $2.50 to $3.00 per kilo. Salicylic acid in technical form is used as a
coupling agent in dye intermediates, in the foundry industry as a curing agent
in the production of shell molding compounds, as an agent for retarding the
vulcanization process in rubber, as a preservative for glues and leather goods,
and in alkyl/alkyd resins and latex paints (CMR, Dec. 13, 1982).
The bark tincture has been used to treat rheumatism, gout, and scurvy and
infections of the chest, kidneys, and stomach. The buds have been used as a
vulnerary and pectoral. In Europe, the fresh flowers are steeped in cold water
to purify the blood. Used by Amerindians as a folk cancer remedy. Ojibwa used
aspen buds, stewed in bear fat, for earache, bronchitis, or cough. Bella Coola
decocted the rotten leaves as an herbal bath for general body pain and used the
buds in poultices for hip or lung pain. Carrier chewed the root to apply as a
hemostat and decocted the buds for colds and respiratory problems. Chippewa
decocted the buds for colds and respiratory problems; heart ailments, sprains,
and strains, and the root for backache, female problems, metrorrhea, and
weakness. Delaware used the bark for female ailments. Nanticoke used bark for
sprains. Ojibwa used the down like cotton on wounds. Potawatomi cooked buds
in tallow to make an ointment for eczema and sores. "Tacamahaca" was used by
Amerindians for maturing tumors. Smoky Mountain settlers used the buds like
the Indians to make a salve for myalgia and soreness (Duke, 1983c).
The bark contains salicortin, salicin, salicyl alcohol, pyrocatechin,
a-salicyloylsalicin, grandidentatin, grandidentoside, populoside,
trichocarposide, and 6-methyldihydroquercetin. Leaves contain salicortin,
salicin, salicyl alcohol, pyrocatechin, 1-0-p-cumaroyl-b-D-glycoside,
populoside, a-salicyloylsalicin, chrysin-7-glucoside, and deltoidin
(2-0-salicyloylsalicin). Tremulacin, brenzcatechin, and
quercetin-3,3'-dimethyethes are also reported (List and Horhammer, 19691979).
Large tree to 2030(-50) m tall, diam. 0.5 to 2 m; bark grayish-green and
smooth at first, later blackish and furrowed. Leaves broadly deltoid, 815 cm
long, nearly as broad, glabrous on both sides, short-acuminate, dentate with
incurved glandular or callous tipped teeth; bases truncate to subcordate,
with 23 basal glands; petiole strongly flattened laterally. Bracts of aments
fringed or fimbriate, the divisions narrow. Staminate aments 7.512.5 cm long,
thick, stamens ca 60 or more, anthers red. Pistillate aments green and
slender, 23 dm long; ovaries glabrous; stigmas 3 or 4. Capsules ovoid, 610
mm long, glabrous, green, the peduncle 310 mm long; seeds cottony (Brown and
Reported from the North American Center of Diversity, eastern cottonwood, or
cvs thereof, is reported to tolerate frost, heavy soil, sand, slope, and
waterlogging. Because of its intolerance to competition and the absence of
suitable seedbeds under existing stands, it does not usually succeed itself
Quebec to North Dakota, south to Florida and Texas (Ag. Handbook 450).
Estimated to range from Warm Temperate Dry to Moist through Cold Temperate Dry
to Moist Forest Life Zones, eastern cottonwood is reported to tolerate annual
precipitation of 6 to 15 dm, annual temperature of 8 to 14°C, and pH of 4.5
to 8. Said to persist on infertile sands, fine sandy loams, and fairly stiff
clays, but thrives on moist well-drained, fine sandy loams or silts close to
streams (Laver, 1981).
Seeds are microbiotic, but,with proper drying and cold storage in sealed
containers, their viability can be maintained for several years. Natural seed
regeneration can be obtained on moist sites with exacting site preparation.
Seed should not be covered nor pressed into the soil of the seedbed. Young
seedlings are very susceptible to drying out, and the seedbed must be kept
water-saturated for germination and at least one month thereafter (ca 1 oz seed
per 100 ft2 seedbed; or about 300 seeds per sq ft) for broadcast,
100 seeds per linear foot for drilling. About 4 weeks after germination, beds
should be thinned to 20 plants per square foot. Nursery beds are often stream
sterilized or fumigated with methyl bromide to help control damping off.
Finely divided sphagnum moss is a good medium for culturing poplar seedlings in
the greenhouse (Ag. Handbook 450).
In the Lower Mississippi Valley, seed ripening and dispersal takes place from
mid-May through late August, while in the Northeastern US, it occurs slightly
later. Cottonwoods produce large seed crops nearly every year.
Geyer studied two provenances of cottonwood germplasm, one from Missouri, the
other from Nebraska. At Tuttle Creek, Kansas (Eudora soil series, silty-clay
loam, pH 7.5, 2.0% organic matter, 146 kg available P/ha, 560 kg exchangeable
kg/ha; annual precipitation 838 mm, annual mean temperature 13°C) the
Missouri germplasm produced 24,000 kg/ha ovendry biomass over four years spaced
at 0.3 by 1.2 m, 29,400 kg/ha spaced at 0.6 by 1.2 m, and 27,100 kg/ha spaced
at 1.2 by 1.2 m. This averages out to annual biomass production of 6 MT/ha at
0.3 by 1.2, 7 MT/ha at 0.6 by 1.2, and 7 MT/ha at 1.2 by 1.2 m. At the sandier
Milford site (cass fine sandy loam, pH 7.7, 0.6% organic matter, 22 kg P and
336 kg K; annual precipitation 787 mm, the Missouri germplasm produced 22,000
kg/ha ovendry biomass spaced at 0.3 by 1.2 m, 20,600 kg/ha spaced at 0.6 by
1.2, and 21,100 kg/ha spaced at 1.2 by 1.2. Annual biomass production
(aboveground) thus averages out to about 6 MT/ha at 0.3 by 1.2, 5 MT/ha at 0.6
by 1.2, and 5 MT/ha at 1.2 by 1.2 m. Biennial harvests were made in December
when no leaves were on the trees. The stumps sprouted vigorously the following
spring. Bark accounted for about 28% of the small parts of the tree on a dry
weight basis, 16% of the large parts, running about 19% for the whole tree.
The heat of combustion for the small parts was 4,695 cal/g, 4,416 for the large
parts. At Tuttle Creek, the Nebraska germplasm produced 27,400 kg/ha ovendry
biomass over four years spaced at 0.3 by 1.2 m, 25,800 kg/ha spaced at 0.6 by
1.2 m, and 28,000 kg/ha spaced at 1.2 by 1.2 m, averaging 7 MT/ha/yr at 0.3 by
1.2, 6 MT at 0.6 by 1.2 and 7 MT at 1.2 by 1.2 m. At the sandier Milford site,
the Nebraska germplasm produced 28,200 kg/ha ovendry biomass spaced at 0.3 by
1.2 m, 28,500 kg/ha spaced at 0.6 by 1.2, and 24,000 kg/ha spaced at 1.2 by 1.2
averaging out to about 7 MT/ha/yr at 0.3 by 1.2, 7 MT at 0.6 by 1.2, and 6 MT
at 1.2 by 1.2 m. Bark accounted for about 41% of the small parts of the tree
on a dry weight basis, 23% of the large parts, running about 28% for the whole
tree. The heat of combustion for the small parts was 4,385 cal/g, 4,288 for
the large parts. Average annual of several species tested in eastern Kansas
ran from 3.6 to 6.7 ovendry MT/ha, with close spacings producing the greatest
tonnage, greater than those reported from similar studies in southeastern and
northeastern US. Geyer compares these studies with similar studies in
Pennsylvania, spaced at 0.6 by 0.6 m, yielding 0.6 MT/ha in year 1, 3.7 in year
2, 6.0 in year 3, and 6.2 in year 4. Another Kansas study showed 5.8 MT/ha/yr
in 3 year old Populus 'Tristis No. l' (Geyer, 1981). Henry and Salo (1981)
calculate the energetic cost of a silvicultural biomass farm as 1.67 billion
(109) Btu for supervision, 0.53 for field supply, 7.87 for
harvesting, 8.78 for handling the biomass, 17.32 for transport of the biomass,
112.48 for irrigation, 128.33 for fertilizaton and cultivation for a total
consumption of ca 277 109 Btu, returning 4,250 x 109 Btu
as energy, for a net gain of 3,972 x 109 Btu. (For a farm designed
to have an annual production of 250,000 ovendry tons of biomass, enough to
support an electric power plant of ca 50 MW.)
According to the phytomass files (Duke, 1981b), annual productivity in
Populus ranges from 3 to 22 MT/ha. Fast growing poplars in Sweden,
harvested young, have given biomass yields of 1428 MT/ha. The maximum
possible production of fast growing poplars, with optimum fertilization and
moisture, is 44 MT/ha in the Netherlands, but normal production levels are
closer to 6 (Palz and Chartier, 1980). The MAI of ca 22 MT DM/ha have been
reported for hybrid poplars in Sweden, Henry and Salo (1981) assume that
silvicultural energy farms in Louisiana will generate 15.3 times as much energy
as they consume, compared to 10.6 times in Wisconsin. Here we see the 10:1
ratio we saw also in oilseeds, much higher than the average energetic yields
for conventional crops.
Agriculture Handbook No. 165 lists the following as affecting this species:
Agrobacterium tumefaciens, Cercospora populina, C. populicola, C. reducta,
Ciborinia confundens, Cryptodiaporthe salicina, Dothichiza populea,
Fomes applanatus, F. igniarius, Graphium rubrum, Hypoxylon spp.,
Marssonina populi, Melampsora abietis-canadensis, M. medusae, M. occidentalis,
Melanconis occulta, Mycosphaerella macularis, M. populifolia, M. populorum,
Nectria sp., Phoradendron flavescens var. macrophyllum,
Phyllosticta intermixta, P. maculans, Phymatotrichum omnivorum, Physalospora
obtusa, Pleurotus ostreatus, Polyporus spp., Septoria populi, S.
populicola, Steccherinum ochraceum, Stigmina sp. Taphrina aurea, T.
johansonii, Trametes hispida, Uncinula salicis, Valsa nivea, V. sordida,
Venturia tremulae. In addition, Browne (1968) lists the following as
affecting this species: Bacteria: Aplanobacter populi. Fungi:
Armillaria mellea, Cladosporium subsessile, Cryptodiaporthe populea,
Drepanopeziza populorum, D. punctiformia, Fomes fomentarius, Ilypoxylon
pruinatum, Leucostoma niveum, Melampsora laricipopulina, M. populnea,
Mycosphaerella populorum, Nectria coccinea, N. ditissima, N. galligena, N.
haematococca, Neofabraea populi, Oxyporus populinus, Pezicula populi, Phellinus
igniarius, Phyllosticta populina, Septotinia populiperda, Trametes sauveolens,
Venturia macularis. Coleoptera: Capnodis miliaris, Chrysomela interrupta, C.
scripta, Tragocephala variegata, Zeugophora abnormis, Z. scutellaris.
Diptera: Phytagromyza populicola. Hemiptera: Pemphigus
populitransversus, Phloemyzus passerini. Hymenoptera: Pontania
bozemani, Trichiocampus viminalis. Lepidoptera: Acronicta lepusculina,
Choristoneura conflictana, Leucoma salicis, Nymphalis antiopa, Paranthrene
tabaniformis, Sesia tibialis. Mammalia: Capra hircus, Oryctolagus
cuniculus (Browne, 1968). Adults and larvae of the cottonwood leaf beetle
(Chrysomela scripta) feed on the foliage and succulent stems of
seedlings, killing or retarding growth in plantations and nurseries. Equally
injurious are cottonwood twig borers (Gypsonoma haimbachiana) and cotton
root and stem borers (Paranthrene dollii). Borers of the southern and
central states (Plectrodera scalator) and the poplar borer (Saperda
calcarata), found principally in the northern part of the range, cause
lumber defects (Laver, 1981).
Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
- Agriculture Handbook 165. 1960. Index of plant diseases in the United States.
- Agriculture Handbook 450. 1974. Seeds of woody plants in the United States.
Forest Service, USDA. USGPO. Washington.
- Brown, R.C. and Brown, M.L. 1972. Woody plants of Maryland. Port City Press,
- Browne, F.G. 1968. Pests and diseases of forest plantations trees. Clarendon
- Duke, J.A. 1981b. The gene revolution. Paper 1. p. 89150. In: Office of
Technology Assessment, Background papers for innovative biological technologies
for lesser developed countries. USGPO. Washington.
- Duke, J.A. 1983c. Amerindian medicinal plants. Typescript.
- Geyer, W.A. 1981. Growth, yield, and woody biomass characteristics of seven
short-rotation hardwoods. Wood Science 13(4):209215.
- Henry, J.F. and Salo, D.J. 1981. Silviculture energy farms. p. 341370. In:
McClure, T.A. and Lilpinsky, E.S. (eds.), CRC handbook of biosolar resources.
vol. II. Resource materials. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.
- Laver, M.L. 1981. Hardwoods. p. 271287. In: McClure, T.A. and Lipinsky, E.S.
(eds.), CRC handbook of biosolar resources, vol. II. Resource materials. CRC
Press, Inc., Boca Raton, FL.
- List, P.H. and Horhammer, L. 19691979. Hager's handbuch der pharmazeutischen
praxis. vols 26. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.
- Palz, W. and Chartier, P. (eds.). 1980. Energy from biomass in Europe. Applied
Science Publishers Ltd., London.
Last update January 8, 1998 by aw