Cottonwood Trees (Populus deltoides) Plains Cottonwood is likely the subspecies in our trial, but we feel strongly that Rio Grande Cottonwood and Eastern Cottonwood are so closely related that the information here applies to all varieties.
Leaves –So far, we have determined that the leaves are safe. This item got mixed reviews from the hermit crabs though. Mine ate some on the second feeding, but several others have reported more enthusiastic reactions.
Stems & Bark –Storing these in my basement has attracted mice (and they went to some trouble to get at them), so I am hoping to get a positive reaction from the crabs as well, but my food trial is still pending. I will edit this entry when it is complete.
7/3/07 UPDATE: The crabs spent a great deal of time devouring the soft papery inner bark yesterday. Tank was practically licking the bowl clean! While harvesting, I noticed many bugs and larvae imbedded in the papery layers of inner bark which prompted me to think that it would be safe for crabs too. This morning everyone is fine, so if a week or so goes by with no adverse affects, we will conclude that bark too is safe.
Flowers & Seeds (including cotton) –Trial pending, will edit when results are known.
The second page of this link has great photos of both male and female specimens: