Eastern Cottonwood Populus deltoides
Family: Salicaceae (Willow)
Branching: Alternate

Eastern Cottonwood is quite common in extreme southwestern Ontario.  It is often a huge tree, much larger than the other poplars.  In fact they are often the most massive trees around.  They also grow extremely fast and are very short lived.  Middle-aged trees of Balsam Poplar and Eastern Cottonwood are often difficult to distinguish (they also hybridize naturally).  Very brown-red buds (Balsam) as opposed to very yellow (Cottonwood) may help, as will the presence of noticeable ridges running down the tips of the twigs (Cottonwood).  If there are any leaves clinging to the tree, the leaf stalk will help; round leaf stalks are Balsam Poplar and flattened leaf stalks are Cottonwood.  On mature trees, the enormous trunk is often enough to identify it, along with the deeply furrowed bark.  The twigs and buds tend to be much larger than other poplars (though Balsam Poplar can be large as well).  They probably share the "largest bud" distinction with Horsechestnut.  

Eastern Cottonwood often has very large buds, usually yellowish

End bud of Eastern Cottonwood

Vertical ridges are often (but not always) found on the twigs

Lateral bud

Another view of a winter twig

Though the vertical ridges on the twigs isn't always present, it is distinctive when found.
This is an extreme example of the ridges extending down on the main stem. 

Young bark... grey and becoming furrowed (can be very similar to Balsam Poplar)

A mature tree is quite distinctive with a huge trunk
and deeply furrowed bark

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