Legend of the Cottonwood Tree Star

Today was our first park day with the homeschool group I agreed to take over here and we were lucky enough to come across our first cottonwood tree star. The people were really nice, the kids very accepting of Carter, it is just that parks here are NOT accessible….grrrrr!

In any case, it was a beautiful park with  hundreds of old cottonwood trees lining the river that the kids played in. Again, Carter couldn’t get down to the river area but this is how we learned something new. In an effort to include Carter some of the kids went out scouting for cottonwood twigs. cottonwood tree starDid you know that if you are very lucky and you snap a cottonwood tree twig right on the lines, you can find a star hiding inside?

I grew up with cottonwoods all over Arizona and never knew this. The group knew there was a Native American legend surrounding this little oddity of nature so when we came home we looked it up. According to Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes, they believed that this is where the stars in the sky come from. According to this legend, the wind sent them to the sky from the trees.  There is also another legend that the stars hide there during the day. The Lakota use the cottonwood tree as the ‘tree of life’ in their Sundance ceremony because of the star shape found in the pith.You won’t see the star in every branch, if the twig is too green or too old, it won’t appear. It is a fun little hunt to try out with the kiddo’s next time you are out among cottonwoods. Just take your allergy meds before you go. My eyes are now itching like crazy!

Picture credit to: SPREE


  1. KAREN BOWMAN says

    My sister has a cottonwood tree growing in her front year in Indiana. A storm happened to go through their area the night before. I went out in the yard to pick up some of the twigs. I now have a small collection of twigs to pass out as I relate the story of the hidden star to the small children (and the big children) most of whom never have known of the existence of the star. My pastor thought I had painted the star on the end of the twig. I also brought home a bunch of the seeds which I have planted so that this phenomenon can continue.

    Karen Bowman

    • says

      Hi Karen,
      I live in Minnesota and have just now heard of the legends of the cottonwood trees. I love it because the star signifies to me that although it is hidden, it is very important – just like my dreams! Thanks for sharing about your sister’s cottonwood tree.

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