|The old cottonwood trees are dying|
Isaac B Werner had catalpa trees (See "Isaac's Catalpa Trees," 5-30-2012 in the blog archives), Osage orange trees (See "Planting Osage Orange Trees," 3-15-2012), and maples, but the greatest number of trees were cottonwood trees that he planted with cuttings (See "Isaac Plants Cottonwood Trees," 12-2-2011). Cottonwood trees were abundant in Isaac's community, but today the old favorites are dying. I love cottonwood trees--the sounds of rustling taffeta as the breeze ruffles their leaves, the golden leaves against the bright blue of an autumn sky. And, unlike most people, I also love the springtime snow fall of the cottonwood seeds drifting gently by. Of course, that cottony fluff also clogs air conditioner compressors and collects in messy drifts to gather dust. For me, the magic of the falling cotton is worth the resulting nuisance.
|Cottonwood seeds on ground|
|Seeds still on branch|
As our cottonwood trees at the farm age and fall to the ground (See "Threats to Timber Claims," 2-19-2015), we miss having them and have wanted to replant some. However, all that we could find available from commercial tree nurseries were "cottonless" cottonwoods. I considered the idea of trying to grow cottonwood trees from cuttings like Isaac did, but any tender cuttings on our old trees were too high for me to reach.
|Our 'forest' of cottonwood seedlings|
Spring of 2015 provided many successive days of rain at about the time the cottonwood seeds were falling, and it was the perfect environment for the seeds to collect along the edges of standing water, germinate, and produce seedlings.
I noticed some little seedlings along the edges of the standing water, but never having noticed cottonwood seedlings before, I wasn't sure what the seedlings were. I left them to grow so I could get a better look at their leaves. For a time I was the only one who thought they were cottonwood seedlings, and even I wasn't sure. Eventually the leaves began to take the recognizable shape and I was no longer the butt of jokes. We had a wealth of seedlings from which to transplant potential trees.
I have now lifted a dozen of the seedlings into pots to see if
|Cottonwood seedlings in pots|
they can survive being transplanted. If they thrive, we will find a place for them, and the farm will once again have young cottonwood trees growing. I'm sure most of our friends think we are a little crazy, planting what many have come to consider a trash tree, and what is worse, choosing trees that will produce the nuisance of cotton every spring. But, judging from the number of followers of my blog who have expressed their affection for cottonwood trees, at least some of you will understand and will be cheering for our success in propagating these trees so popular with the early settlers of the prairie!