US Fish & Wildlife Service


Date of this Version

January 1988


Published in Diana H. Cross and Paul Vohs (eds.) Waterfowl Management Handbook. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1988. Online at


Willow and cottonwood are common species in forested wetlands and occur throughout most riparian and floodplain habitats of North America. These woody species are especially common in early successional stands where seasonal flooding occurs regularly. Cottonwood and willow are often considered problem plants, because they rapidly invade wetlands dominated by herbaceous flora and can form dense, extensive stands. The shade created by these species eliminates herbaceous undergrowth, and once the sapling stage is reached, cottonwoods and willows are difficult to eradicate. Control of these species can be costly and varies considerably with latitude.