The Cottonwood tree is a very fast growing shade tree with soft wood. Trees can out-grow a small yard in no time at all, see photos.
The Cottonwood gets it's name from the "cotton" or seeds that look like cotton, produced in the spring.
One bit of advice, if looking for a "cottonless" Cottonwood, be very careful that you purchase the tree from a reputable nursery or online company, because you won't be able to tell whether it does or does not produce cotton, all you can go by is the tag on the tree. When it gets older it may surprise you!
The Cottonwood is a beautiful large shade tree that requires full sun and plenty of water. It provides tons of shade very quickly, but it does have it's problems.
The tree is prone to webworm attack and with the wood being so soft, strong winds may break branches.
Also, the large surface roots cause problems with septic tanks, sprinkler lines and even buckle up sidewalks.
They are really beautiful, growing along the Rio Grande river, but if you want that beauty in your yard, you need a large area at least a hundred feet or more away from ponds, swimming pools or any other water sources.
The Cottonwood tree grows very well in the desert Southwest and we liked the tree so much we planted our own River Walk in an arroyo.
The town of Alamogordo, NM was named for the tree, "alamo" is cottonwood in Spanish and "gordo" is fat, "fat cottonwood".