East­ern cot­ton­wood

Toronto Star - - INSIGHT -

( Pop­u­lus del­toides) Neigh­bour­hood: Lea­side, East York Ravine/Park: Sun­ny­brook Park Height: 34 m (111 feet); di­am­e­ter: 152 cm (5 feet)

With a di­am­e­ter of 152 cm — the width of a typ­i­cal queen-size bed — this is the largest of the 905 trees in Davies’ cur­rent in­ven­tory. And even with its im­pres­sive stature — the tip of its crown is higher than a typ­i­cal 10-storey build­ing — it likely still has some grow­ing to do. In the right con­di­tions, this fast-grow­ing species can eas­ily span 180 cm (6 feet) in di­am­e­ter, with some of the big­gest east­ern cot­ton­woods in the U.S. mea­sur­ing an as­ton­ish­ing 355 cm (11.5 feet) across. Un­com­mon in Toronto — the Great Lakes re­gion is at the north­ern tip of its range — east­ern cot­ton­woods are easy to spot in early sum­mer when they let loose seeds at­tached to tufts of fluffy white hairs that float in the breeze. If you a spy a large east­ern cot­ton­wood in your neigh­bour­hood, know that its easy-to­bur­row-in wood is im­por­tant habi­tat for cav­ity-nest­ing species, in­clud­ing wood­peck­ers, owls, tree frogs and fly­ing squir­rels.

With a di­am­e­ter of 152 cm, this east­ern cot­ton­wood is the largest of the trees in Toronto ecol­o­gist Eric Davies’ in­ven­tory.

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