Black Cottonwood


Secwepemc Name: mulc

An important wildlife/habitat tree

Cottonwood logs were used to make dugout canoes. Mary Thomas’ father would make cottonwood dugouts; she and the other children were responsible for gathering the rocks and heating them up in the fire. Dugout canoes were mainly constructed from large cottonwood logs hollowed out and molded with fire, water and red-hot rocks. They were generally used on the rivers, whereas canoes made of bark sheets sewn over a framework of molded sticks or splints were often used on the lakes. Mary Thomas recalled that there were huge cottonwoods in the Salmon River delta area. Teit (1909:519) reported that the gum from the buds or tips was used to glue feathers to arrow shafts. Cottonwood bark, like birch bark, was used for manufacturing bucket-like containers, and it was also used for lining and covering food cache pits for meat and fish, to keep rodents out and protect the food.

The resinous, sweet-smelling buds, called melcqín’, or stet’qe7, were used to make a medicinal salve. Mary Thomas recalled a number of different medicinal uses for cottonwood. The inner bark, leaves, and buds were used for treating coughs, colds, lung problems, and kidney and urinary disorders. The leaves were also used to stop bleeding on fresh cuts. A mixture of the buds and inner bark was used to prevent scurvy, and a tea of the buds was used as a gargle.

Ecological Requirements: Requires moist soils and can withstand some flooding. Can grow in nutrient rich soil or in sandy soils (most often in soils deposited by water), will not tolerate shade.

Very large mature trees along all areas of the Salmon River Delta.  Some losses  due to wind and flood in 2012