Scouting for weeds: Common cottonwood
Common cottonwood: Populus deltoids Marshall (view images)
Life cycle: Fast-growing, weedy tree.
Leaves: Alternate, simple, broadly triangular, 3 to 5 inches long with coarse, incurved-toothed margins and a smooth base. Leaves are shiny green above and have two to five prominent, fingerlike glands where the long, flattened petiole attaches to the leaf. Margins are outlined by a colorless border.
Stems: Up to 100 feet at maturity with a straight trunk and minimal branching. Bark is ash gray on mature trees and greenish yellow on young stems. Plants have the ability to form many vigorous, weedy sprouts.
Flowers and fruit: Male and female flowers are found on separate plants and are clustered in drooping, up to 4-inch-long spikes. Male flowers are reddish; female flowers are greenish. Fruit are three- to four-valved capsules that release cottony, wind-disseminated seeds.