Herb: Narrowleaf Cottonwood

Latin name: Populus angustifolia

Family: Salicaceae (Willow Family)

Medicinal use of Narrowleaf Cottonwood:

A tea made from the inner bark is used in the treatment of scurvy. The bark contains salicin, a glycoside that probably decomposes into salicylic acid (aspirin) in the body. The bark is therefore anodyne, anti-inflammatory and febrifuge. It is used especially in treating rheumatism and fevers, and also to relieve the pain of menstrual cramps. The woolly fruit is moistened and applied to the gums in order to treat infections. A tea made from the fruits is used in the treatment of toothache.

Description of the plant:


30 m
(98 feet)

Habitat of the herb:

Streambanks in dry mountains, foothills and dry plains.

Edible parts of Narrowleaf Cottonwood:

Inner bark There are no more details but inner bark is often dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickener in soups etc or added to cereals when making bread. A "honeydew", produced on the undersides of leaves by aphis, was collected by various native North American Indian tribes and used as a sweetener. The buds have been used as a chewing gum.

Other uses of the herb:

An extract of the shoots can be used as a rooting hormone for all types of cuttings. It is extracted by soaking the chopped up shoots in cold water for a day. The young shoots are used in making baskets. The highly developed root system helps to reduce erosion when trees are planted on banks and slopes. Wood - weak, soft, rather woolly in texture, without smell or taste, of low flammability, not durable, very resistant to abrasion. It weighs 24lb per cubic foot. The tree's scarcity and small size make it commercially unimportant, though it is sometimes used locally for fence posts and fuel.

Propagation of Narrowleaf Cottonwood:

Seed - must be sown as soon as it is ripe in spring. Poplar seed has an extremely short period of viability and needs to be sown within a few days of ripening. Surface sow or just lightly cover the seed in trays in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the old frame. If sufficient growth is made, it might be possible to plant them out in late summer into their permanent positions, otherwise keep them in the cold frame until the following late spring and then plant them out. Most poplar species hybridize freely with each other, so the seed may not come true unless it is collected from the wild in areas with no other poplar species growing. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season's growth, 20 - 40cm long, November/December in a sheltered outdoor bed or direct into their permanent positions. Very easy. Suckers in early spring.

Cultivation of the herb:

Streambanks in dry mountains, foothills and dry plains.

Known hazards of Populus angustifolia:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.