Monday, May 16, 2011

The Mighty Cottonwood Tree

I spend quite a bit of time in riparian zones in the border area of Southern Arizona and the most impressive living things that I have encountered there are the Cottonwoods. I cannot resist photographing them sometimes over and over again because each time I visit they have a different face or a new inhabitant.

Their amazing size and longevity draws me to them each time I visit San Pedro National Conservation Area or the Arivaca Cienega where the water stays close to the surface and supplies the Cottonwoods with the hundreds of gallons needed on a hot, dry desert day.

Information on the cottonwood can be found here at

Usually growing to 50 feet tall cottonwoods can grow under the right conditions to 100 feet or more. These trees have a life expectancy of 100 year with some lasting more than 150 years.

Cottonwoods are a great indicator of the presence of water as they cannot survive for too many years without proper moisture.

Cottonwoods thrive at the Arivaca Cienega and along Arivaca Creek. They are home to many species of birds and are the best place to find Gray Hawks.

At the end of life this tree might be a victim of the water table dropping out of it's reach or just plain old age.

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