Medicinal Uses of Cottonwood
Answered by: Susan Eagles and Conrad Richter
Question from: Sylevestion McGibbon
Posted on: March 13, 2007

I am requesting information on the plant cottonwood leaves and its medicinal value, and seed for propagating.

Cottonwood is also known as Balsam Poplar, Tacamahac, Balm of Gilead and Populus balsamifera. It is the leaf buds that are used medicinally. Herbalist Michael Moore, in his book "Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West" says "The salicylates, relatives of aspirin found in Balsam Poplar, act topically as anti-inflammatory agents, and the aromatic resins act as vasodilators, antimicrobials, and stimulants to skin proliferation". Moore describes uses of the tincture, oil or salve as a "reliable and predictable pain and swelling treatment", applied, for example, to sprains or arthritic joints. He discusses the use of the tincture as "very effective therapy for chest colds, increasing protective mucus secretions in the beginning, when tissues are hot, dry and painful. Later it increases the softening expectorant secretions when the mucus is hard and impacted on the bronchial walls, and coughing is painful".

Richters can supply seeds on a special order basis. In general, tree seeds are a bit of a challenge to grow from seeds, often requiring special treatment or are naturally short-lived. Contact our Customer Service department ( for availability and a quote.

Back to Medicinal Herbs and Their Uses | Q & A Index

Copyright © 1997-2023 Otto Richter and Sons Limited. All rights reserved.