“Plains Cottonwood” Tree Is The Official State Tree Of Wyoming. Wyoming Adopted Plains Cottonwood as the official state tree in 1947. The statute was amended in 1961 to change the scientific name to Populus deltoides variety monilifera. The choice was inspired by the presence of a huge specimen, approximately 50 feet tall, growing on a ranch near Thermopolis, Wyoming. At 50 feet tall and 29 feet around, it was thought to be the largest cottonwood in the world until it burned down in 1955. Wyoming State Tree Cottonwoods are by nature short-lived trees when they eke out an existence on the Great Plains.
Wyoming State Tree Plains cottonwood is a stout, wide-branching tree. Its large, wide, simple leaves are somewhat triangular in shape, often shiny, with pale to bright red veins. They turn yellow-gold in fall. Its flowers grow in cylindrical groups, followed in spring by tiny seeds with tufts of cottony hairs.
Height: 10-98 ft (3-30 m)
Diameter: 5-79 in (13-200 cm)
Bark: young: green-yellow, smooth
mature: dark gray, thick, rough and deeply furrowed
Seed: inch-long with capsules containing 3-4 valves, many tiny, cotton-like seeds inside valves
Leaves: large and triangular with coarse teeth
State Tree Of Wyoming Plains cottonwood is a quick-growing, short-lived deciduous tree. It is considered the fastest-growing tree in the Great Plains. The life expectancy is about 70-100 years.
Plains cottonwood’s range is dry subhumid to semiarid, with extremes and rapid fluctuations in temperature, unpredictable and limited precipitation, frequent and cyclic droughts, and strong persistent winds. Average temperatures in Wyoming State Tree plains cottonwood’s range vary from -50°F (-46° C) to 115° F (46° C).
State Tree Of Wyoming Plains cottonwood does not readily form suckers or stem sprouts, and sprouting is uncommon except in flood-trained shoots. It is generally killed by fire and has a very poor sprouting response.
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE
Plains cottonwood stands provide roosting and nesting sites, nesting material, and feeding sites for the majority of all birds breeding in northeastern Colorado. Beavers use the wood of plains cottonwood for food and for buildings dams and lodges. The Wyoming State Tree plains cottonwood/red-osier dogwood community provides thermal cover, debris recruitment, and streamside stability for fishes. State Tree Of Wyoming Plains cottonwood is eaten by prairie porcupines and is the most important browse species for mule deer in the fall.