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This is a native species.

Populus angustifolia
Populus angustifolia (Narrowleaf Cottonwood)
Salicaceae (Willow Family)

Foothills, montane, subalpine. Streamsides. Spring.
Fish Creek Trail, May 21, 2006.

Narrowleaf Cottonwood is the dominant tree for miles along foothill and montane streams such as the Dolores and Animas Rivers near Dolores and Durango, Colorado.  The tree forms extensive stands and commonly grows tightly packed, slender, and to 60 feet tall.  Green leaves cover most trees from bottom to top because the trunk has a raggedy collection of small limbs, all of which produce leaves.

Populus angustifolia and Populus deltoides hybridize. See Populus acuminata

"Populus" is Latin for "people" and is the classical Latin name for the tree.  "Angustifolia" is Latin for "narrow leaf".

The Populus genus was named by Linnaeus in 1753. Populus angustifolia was discovered for science "along the upper part of the Platte River, near the Rocky Mts." by Edwin James and James named the species in John Torrey's 1828 description.

Populus angustifolia
Populus angustifolia (Narrowleaf Cottonwood)
Salicaceae (Willow Family)

Foothills, montane, subalpine. Streamsides. Spring.
West Mancos Trail, June 17, 2010.

Narrowleaf Cottonwood bark is rough and gray and leaves are long, narrow, and very finely serrated.

Narrowleaf Cottonwoods are in the Willow Family and, because of their long narrow leaves, young trees are often mistaken for what we generally call a "Willow". But give the small plant time to grow and it will mature into a large shade tree.

Populus angustifolia

Populus angustifolia (Narrowleaf Cottonwood)
Salicaceae (Willow Family)

Foothills, montane, subalpine. Streamsides. Spring.
Roaring Fork Road, January 24, 2007.

Winter allows you to see the mass of interlaced branches characteristic of Populus angustifolia.  Contrast this growth pattern with that of Populus deltoides with its long branchless trunk and crown of leaves.  Very old Populus angustifolia trees often lose their numerous lower branches and from a distance look very much like Populus deltoides.

Populus angustifolia
Populus angustifolia  (Narrowleaf Cottonwood) 
Salicaceae (Willow Family)

Foothills, montane, subalpine. Streamsides. Spring.
Dolores River, October 12, 2004.

Narrowleaf Cottonwoods along the Dolores River and Aspens on the mountain sides
put on a spectacular fall show.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Populus angustifolia