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Large amounts of water quench the fastest-growing native tree in North America

Making It Grow Radio Minute
SC Public Radio
Making It Grow, hosted by Amanda McNulty

Hello, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Cottonwoods in nature are found in places where there is plenty of water, although they can grow well in drier spots as long as they have full sun. They use huge amounts of water, and that contributes to their being the fastest-growing native tree in North America. They were planted on the prairies for windbreaks. For comparison, during the growing season, an oak tree uses at most 50 gallons of water, but a cottonwood can use up to 200 gallons. A newsletter from the Mississippi Park Connection which is actively involved in cottonwood restoration gives those trees credit for ameliorating the temperature in that region by adding massive amounts of water to the atmosphere through transpiration.

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Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.