Sunday, October 17, 2010


Here's the first in a series spotlighting the various plant types on the farm, both wild and introduced.  Our first subject is the Cottonwood tree.  In New Mexico, if you see a Cottonwood, it means water.  It could be a seep, an acequia or a river.  We have several Cottonwoods along the acequia on Earth Echo Farm.  The native species is the Fremont Cottonwood (Populus fremontii).  All cottonwoods are dioecious, having separate male and female trees.  The wood is too soft to use as lumber or fenceposts, but is the preferred firewood for the first fire of the season because it burns hot and fast and clears the chimney of creosote.  In summer our cottonwoods are festooned with the wonderful hanging nests of the oriel.

Beaver chew marks on a large Cottonwood.

We also have beaver whose two favorite foods are Cottonwoods and Willows.  Now and then, the beaver will eat the New Mexico Locust (Robinia neomexicana) and very rarely the Osage Orange (Maclura pomifera).  They decidedly do not like Junipers (Juniperus monosperma).

Valorie stands in front of one of the young Fremont Cottonwoods we planted this Spring. We bought in large barefoot trees from L.E.Cooke Company for two reasons: we wanted cottonless cottonwoods (male trees) and we wanted large trees to start with (we are in our 70s and would like to see them reach maturity in our lifetime).  Please note the wire fence around the tree to prevent beaver depredations.

In the background, is a New Mexico Locust, already starting to lose its leaves.

This Cottonwood we call The Kneeling Patriarch.

Up the main trunk are Andy’s two sons, William (left) and Matthias (right).


  1. Do you think the beavers would have killed the trees you imported if you hadn't fenced them off? Are the ones you imported tastier?

  2. Actually, yes. The beavers seems to especially enjoy younger baby trees. I guess the bark as well as the inner wood is tenderer. They've killed quite a few younger wild ones on the property. The "native" and the "imported" Cottonwoods are the same species.