This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V20", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
The opinion is common in central and eastern Iowa, that Cottonwood is only valuable on prairies for windbreaks, as the wood has little value for fuel or for any uses of the farm or workshop. The variety - tif it be merely a variety - abundant on the Missouri, and also found sparingly on the Des Moines, Iowa, Cedar, etc, in central and eastern Iowa, known as yellow Cottonwood, really has an economic value, aside from its value for shelter-belts, that should be better understood by our prairie settlers. Bryant says of this variety: "Its heart wood is of a yellowish color, not unlike that of the Tulip tree. It grows fin the same situation as others of its kind and as split without difficulty into rails. Shingles have been manufactured from it which lasted a considerable time. When sawed into lumber it does not warp like the Cottonwood generally. If Populus angulata, and P. monilifera are really distinct, it is a matter of uncertainty to which this variety belongs. The subject should be investigated." Judge C. E. Whiting has grown this tree extensively for a number of years on the Missouri bottom in Monona-county, and has expressed his views as follows:
"We have in the Missouri bottom both the white and yellow Cottonwood. In speaking of the Cottonwood as a valuable timber, I speak alone of the yellow. I have fence boards of this yellow Cottonwood upon my farm that have been in use for fifteen years, and they are yet good. My house is sided with Cottonwood, has been built ten years, and looks as well as any pine siding in the country, and stays to its place well. It is really better as fencing than Pine, being tougher and stronger. It stays to its place as well, and is equally durable. I need hardly say it has no rival in rapidity of growth, as it far outstrips the Willow. Along the bars of the Missouri are millions of seedlings. They grow up upon these bottoms over a great extent, like prairie grass. There are enough of them to plant groves over every prairie in the State. I went ten miles from home, and in one day took up thirteen thousand, eighteen to thirty inches in height, for my own setting. With ground ready, a good hand can set two to three thousand per day. The fall is the best time to get seedlings from the Missouri bottom, on account of the high water in the spring. I set Cottonwood posts from old trees, on the bottom, in the spring of 1860. I moved this fence last fall, and nine-tenths of them are yet good.
The yellow Cottonwood split up green and put under a dry shed to dry is good enough for my folks to use for fuel. Of my first planting of Cottonwood twelve years ago, the best of them now measure sixteen inches in diameter. We would make plantations very thick; I now plant 4, 356 trees to the acre; this shoves them up straight and symmetrical. In this way we get the dead sure thing on the side-branch business".