Herb: Rio Grande Cottonwood

Latin name: Populus deltoides wislizenii

Synonyms: Populus wislizenii

Family: Salicaceae (Willow Family)

Medicinal use of Rio Grande Cottonwood:

Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, the bark of most, if not all members of the genus contain 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.

Description of the plant:


30 m
(98 feet)


Habitat of the herb:

Streambanks and valleys, 750 - 2,000 metres in Texas.

Edible parts of Rio Grande 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. Catkins - raw. The cotton from the pistillate catkins has been used by children as a chewing gum. Seeds. No more details are given but the seeds are very small and would be exceedingly fiddly to collect and use. Buds. 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. Trees are planted for dune fixing in erosion control programmes. Wood - soft, rather woolly in texture, without smell or taste, of low flammability, not durable, very resistant to abrasion. It has a specific gravity of 0.46. Used for posts, rough lumber and rafters of houses, it can also be used as a fuel.

Propagation of Rio Grande 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 and valleys, 750 - 2,000 metres in Texas.

Known hazards of Populus deltoides wislizenii:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.