White weeping willow tree

Weeping Willow

Fast Growth and Classic Grace

Why Weeping Willows?

Sweeping, low branches and a familiar, falling canopy. The Weeping Willow is a favorite among tree lovers for its dramatic appearance and rounded, weeping shape. Plus, it’s perfect for those looking for character and classic looks, adding value to their property. The Weeping Willow is an excellent shade tree that’s always in high demand.
And it’s one of the fastest growing shade trees, growing up to 6 to 8 feet in one year. Willows start out thin, with only a few branches that point upward against the trunk. But after growing quickly to a height around 10 feet, they burst forth with more and more branches that arch outward, forming the weeping canopy that makes them famous.
Why Fast-Growing-Trees.com is Better

Though Weeping Willows are often found near rivers, lakes and wetlands, they can grow just about anywhere, even demonstrating some tolerance to drought. They’re highly adaptable to all kinds of soils and growing conditions, even helping to prevent soil erosion.
And as one of the last trees to lose its leaves in the fall, it’s known for its excellent green hues during the spring and summer and boasts virtually no tree litter. But the best part is we’ve planted, grown and nurtured your Weeping Willow from day one…now, you reap the rewards of our hard work at the nursery.
The Weeping Willow: Known for its grace and beauty, made even better by our healthy, happy variety. Order one (or more) of your own today!

Planting & Care

1. Planting: Plant your Weeping Willow in full sun to partial shade (any area with about 4 to 8 hours of sunlight per day), select a site with well-drained soil, and space at least 35 feet from your septic system or leach field. When you’re ready to plant, dig a hole three times the width and just as deep as the root ball on your tree. Place your tree in the hole, straighten it, gently back fill the soil and tamp it down. After this process is complete, give your tree a long drink of water until the soil becomes moist.

Spreading a layer of mulch that’s about three inches thick around the base of your tree will help the soil retain moisture and prevent weeds from growing.

2. Watering: You should regularly water your Weeping Willow for the first year to keep soil evenly moist (about once or twice weekly). Water your Willow only during dry periods in successive years. Although Weeping Willows prefer moist soil, they adapt easily to drier soil.

3. Fertilizing: Choose a brand that has equal parts of each chemical component, such as 10-10-10 or 20-20-20, or a similar product, for optimum results. Applying fertilizer that contains nitrogen produces greener, lusher plants, and accelerates growth. Fertilize in early spring, before new growth begins.

4. Pruning: Thinning the crown increases air circulation, which pushes wind through the tree and helps prevent disease. A good rule of thumb is to prune 2 inches between branches at the top of the tree during early spring, before new growth emerges.

Also, trim back any branches dragging the ground. And pinch or clip off nubs that grow from the trunk to maintain the classic Weeping shape. Broken branches, dead branches, or diseased wood can be removed year-round.

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I have three distinct memories of trees, other than as objects to climb, when I was a child. At my mother’s house, we had a magnolia next to the driveway that filled the air with the most amazing fragrance. At my grandmother’s house, an enormous pecan tree, with a tyre swing, deposited the makings for the most amazing pies, and all we had to do was gather up the nuts for Mimi to bake a treat. At my father’s house, there was a weeping willow tree with fountain-like branches that captivated me from below them.

I loved all three trees, though I wasn’t particularly into botany in those days. I’ve not seen those trees, if they are still standing, for decades, but I can still picture them. When my wife Emma and I bought a property last year, I was enchanted to find that in parts of the forest, when I stand and look up I can see wild, “umbrella” magnolias—not the Southern magnolia I’d grown up with but familiar enough—forming a beautiful canopy. Because they are native and present, there was no reason to justify planting them. We have dozens to enjoy.

I was pleased to find out that we are on the cusp of where pecan trees will grow, and we have a large one we regularly pass. Though it’s not productive, it still makes an impression, and of course, planting a couple will be on the agenda at some point. However, we only have about an acre to fill with gardens and food forests. Not only are pecan trees towers (30-plus meter high, 20-plus meters wide), but also they self-prune, creating a hazard for structures and other productive trees.

Then, to complete the triumvirate, we need a weeping willow tree. I need to justify it, so what exactly are they good for?

Basic Specs on the Weeping Willow Tree

Weeping willows can get large, 40 feet (12 meters) with a spread to match. They grow fast, looking at about two feet (60 cm) a year. They love the water, famously so, and require plenty of it. They like the sun as well, and they tolerate just about any type of soil.

“Walkway through the willows” by Alan Hunt is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Willow Trees Have a Bad Reputation

Truth be known, many trees I like have a bad reputation. My friend Buck often tells a story of that pecan tree, the one I regularly pass, about how a big branch dropped on a couple of picnickers, sending one to the hospital. Mimosa trees, which many consider an invasive and weed tree here, rank high on my list because they are nitrogen-fixers, have sweet-smelling and edible flowers, and can be coppiced or pollarded for firewood or mulch.

Weeping willow trees have their detractors as well. They are known to be quick-lived, lasting closer to fifteen or thirty years than fifty. They are notorious for invasive root systems that, in search of water, will clog up pipes. Like other fast-growing trees, such as the mimosa, they are also known for having weak wood that’ll drop readily in storms. As they age, their roots trend upwards, which can make them problematic for sidewalks and driveways.

The Willowy Justification Begins

What I like about research is 1) it provides me with material for articles and, more importantly, 2) it provides purpose for just about any plant. Weeping willow trees, beyond the alluring appearance for which they are famous and despite any complaints, have tons of purpose. This has come as no surprise to me, but it has provided the extra oomph I might have needed—I didn’t honestly need added oomph—to feel justified to have a weeping willow as part of our landscape. Of course, knowing the uses makes the tree mean so much more.

“Half Moon Pond” by Ian Capper is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

  • We have the perfect spot, really. We just spent a couple of weekends hand-digging a stream-fed sediment pond with a check dam that feeds into what will soon be a revitalised and larger recreational water storage space. In the sediment pond, we left an island with enough area to plant a weeping willow tree. Water, check. It gets plenty of sun. And, there’s room for it to grow up and out.
  • Willow trees are well-regarded for erosion control, which makes it the perfect tree for our spot as well. The root systems of willow trees are dense and mat-like, and these systems establish quickly along stream or pond banks. Additionally, the willow canopy helps to mitigate rainfall from washing the banks away from above. Should we want or need more, they propagate easily from cuttings.
  • “Willow water” is a natural and free rooting hormone for cuttings from other plants, as well as transplants. In addition to the hormone, because live willow trees have fungal and bacterial defences, willow water can help in protecting rooting plants as well. We plan on starting lots of new plants as we develop our site, so this could be truly useful.
  • Willow bark has well-known medicinal qualities and was, in fact, the inspiration for Aspirin. The bark is made into a tea, which treats pain, fever, insomnia, and various other ailments. It was used for centuries before synthetic versions were created. We don’t use much over-the-counter medication, so the willow bark could prove a positive in this regard as well.
  • Willow trees can be coppiced or pollarded every few years to supply a harvest of willow branches which, in the case of weeping willows, can supply a lot of material for making baskets or lots of other products. Unfortunately, it doesn’t function all that well as firewood because it is so moist. However, both Emma and I are crafty, so we’ll undoubtedly enjoy harvesting the wispy branches for projects.
  • They are good for the wildlife. Willows are known to provide food for wild animals like rabbits, beavers, and deer, all of which are in the area. Plus they provide safe nesting canopies for birds. They are also good for bees because they bloom early in the year. While these attributes are common amongst trees, willows are often listed as being particularly good in this regard.
  • Willow trees, especially weeping willows, are beautiful. It’s an early splash of green in the spring and a hold-out in the fall. Its branches swoop down gracefully to the water, creating a visual that has inspired countless paintings and photographs. For us, this tree would be right in front of our little bridge across the stream, a place we often sit for breakfast and chat.

Research Is Wonderful

One of the things I like about permaculture is how cerebral the process of designing and choosing everything is. It has taught me to consider actions and objects from many angles before doing them or acquiring them, and it has taught me to be open to possibilities. It’s the openness that makes researching trees and plants so much fun: So many of them have an extensive list of uses about which we probably have no idea. After we’ve gained the knowledge, the weeping willow has proven itself and earned a place in our plan.

Willows (Salix species)

Willows are deciduous trees or shrubs that form large, dense root-mats on the surface of the soil or in shallow water and slow-moving streams. They invade thousands of kilometres of riverbanks and numerous wetlands in temperate Australia.

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How does this weed affect you?

Willows are among the worst weeds in Australia due to their invasiveness, potential for spread, and economic and environmental impacts. They have invaded riverbanks and wetlands in temperate Australia, occupying thousands of kilometres of streams and numerous wetland areas. Unlike most other vegetation, willows spread their roots into the bed of a watercourse, slowing the flow of water and reducing aeration. They form thickets which divert water outside the main watercourse or channel, causing flooding and erosion where the creek banks are vulnerable. Willow leaves create a flush of organic matter when they drop in autumn, reducing water quality and available oxygen. This, together with the amount of water willows use, damages stream health. The replacement of native vegetation by willows reduces habitat for both land and aquatic animals.

Where is it found?

Willows have only invaded about 5% of their potential geographic range in temperate Australia. The most seriously invasive willow, grey sallow (Salix cinerea), is expanding its range rapidly in Victoria and New South Wales, and possibly in Tasmania.

Grey sallow or pussy willow (Salix cinerea) is the most seriously invasive willow in Australia. It is a large spreading shrub or small tree with twigs or branches that are hard to break. It reproduces mainly by seed. Pussy willow is highly invasive in swamps, drainage lines and other moist sites including lowland and mountain streams. Large and rapidly expanding populations occur in Victoria, and this species will probably become a major wetland and riverside weed (as it is in New Zealand). It forms hybrids with other shrub willows.

Crack willow (Salix fragilis var. fragilis) and basket willow (Salix x rubens) are by far the most widespread and abundant willows in Australia, and are the most serious problem willow in Tasmania. They are found along thousands of kilometres of streams in southeastern Australia where they were widely planted for stream stabilisation. Crack willow spreads almost exclusively by plant parts so it is only associated with streams.

Black willow (Salix nigra) has been widely planted in northeastern Victoria and at several sites in New South Wales. It is now very abundant in some streams. Black willow has the potential to behave in the same invasive manner as grey sallow in wetlands.

Distribution map

  • NSW (image)

How does it spread?

Most willows spread by fragments of stems or twigs breaking off and growing new roots in water. Pieces can travel many kilometres before establishing at a new site. Fishermen often break off twigs and stick them in the riverbank to hold their lines, and these pieces will also grow.

Seed is the main method of spread for several species, especially grey sallow and black willow. Seed carried by wind or water easily travels more than 1 km, with small amounts potentially spreading up to 100 km. Seed production is becoming more common as more willows are introduced into Australia. However, the conditions required for germination (ie continuously wet, bare sediment) do not commonly occur and the seed only remains viable for between two and six weeks, depending on the species.

Willows are either male or female and most groups in Australia are single-sex clones. However, they readily hybridise when opposite sexes come together. They flower in spring, the flowers only lasting for 2–3 weeks. The tiny seeds ripen about 3–4 weeks later in late spring or early summer. Germination is very fast, occurring within 24 hours, and seedlings grow rapidly under favourable conditions. The hybrid species are vigorous and can breed just two or three years after germination.

There are 32 different groups (species, varieties, subspecies and hybrids) of willows in Australia. Nearly all the different species have become naturalised here and can cross-breed with other willow species that flower at the same time. Most naturalised willow populations are hybrids and can be practically impossible to identify precisely.

The introduction of New Zealand willows (Salix matsudana hybrids) throughout the Murray–Darling Basin in the 1980s and their widespread sale since then is now causing problems, as the females produce abundant seed and the males fertilise the weeping willow (Salix babylonica), a widespread species that in the past usually did not seed because it had no male partner flowering at the same time.

What does it look like?

Willows are deciduous trees or shrubs. They have small seeds with long, silky hairs attached to one end like a parachute, which help them spread. The seeds are usually short-lived, from days to a few weeks. With the exception of the pussy willows, the leaves of all species are long and narrow, with finely toothed edges and usually a paler underside. Upright catkins (flower stalks) carry numerous tiny flowers. The trees form large, dense root-mats on the surface of the soil or in shallow water and slow-moving streams.

What type of environment does it grow in?

Willows occur naturally in permanently or seasonally wet, inundated or waterlogged sites. The largest infestations in Australia are in Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. Several species (weeping, basket and crack willows) have been widely planted along the rural waterways of southeastern Australia for erosion control.

Acknowledgements

Information and guide revision: Bob Trounce (NSW Agriculture), Lynton Auld (Blue Mountains City Council), Richard Carter (NSW Agriculture/Weeds CRC), Vanessa Richardson (NSW NPWS) and John Thorp (National Weeds Management Facilitator). Maps: Australian Weeds Committee.

This information was generated by the CRC for Australian Weed Management.

Weeds of National Significance (2003) Weed Management Guide Willow – Salix spp.

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Control

Willows are relatively easy to kill and mechanical and chemical control techniques are well understood. However, it should be noted that indiscriminate removal of willows is not recommended as it may lead to stream instability. Control should be conducted in consultation with you local council weeds officer.

A willow control strategy

Pull seedlings by hand

The simplest strategy is to pull all seedlings (and rooted branches) while they are still small. This works best if it is done regularly, especially if there are limited sources of seed and few suitable regrowth sites.

Kill mature tree where they stand unless this is not possible for safety, practical or aesthetic reasons. Use stem injection of a registered herbicide to avoid chemical runoff. Best results will be achieved from summer to early autumn. Leave trees undisturbed for 12 months after herbicide application to ensure a successful kill.

Start control in the uppermost part of the catchment, preferably on the insides of bends

A long-term planned approach to control is needed. Staged removal should start in the upper reaches of the catchment. In the case of seeding species (eg pussy willow and black willow) which can recolonise treated areas, a coordinated catchment-scale intensive attack is the best option.

First remove trees on the inside of bends because these banks are more stable. Where willows have been planted to stabilise soil or creek banks, alternative vegetation should be established before all willows are removed.

Be aware of stream flow dynamics

The flow of the river will change once the willows are removed, and this may place greater pressure on restricted points downstream. In these cases it may be advisable to start working on the lower end of the section, progressing upstream.

Follow-up will be required

Monitor treated areas and use followup control on any regrowth for 3–5 years after the initial control.

Prevent spread

Early detection and control are essential to prevent the spread of new infestations. The deliberate planting of willows along waterways has virtually ceased and extensive removal operations are common. It is fairly easy, given enough resources, to prevent the spread of willows that propagate by plant parts, as they are confined to streams and are spread downstream. For seeding willows, prevention of spread is difficult because seed can be dispersed over large areas. Willows are still widely planted, eg for windbreaks on farms, and many groups (including weedy ones) are sold by the nursery trade in Australia. There is potential for additional willow taxa to become naturalised if importation is not closely regulated.

Surveys and staged removal

A long-term plan should be devised before any attempt is made to eliminate problem willows. Removal of trees can actually increase erosion problems, so a plan to replace willows with more desirable species is needed. Start by carrying out an extensive survey to identify potential seed sources. The willow species that set seed flower between September and November, so this is the best time to search for catkins on or under trees.

CSIRO recommends identifying seed trees by attaching conspicuous plastic ribbons to them which will endure floods and grazing animals and last for 2–3 years. Trees growing more than 2 km away from a river may still be a significant seed source.

Staged removal should be undertaken over a number of years, starting in the upper reaches of each catchment and working downstream. Where willows have been planted to stabilise soils or banks, alternative vegetation should be established before the willows are removed.

Remove trees first which will not destabilise banks (eg on the inside of bends). Anticipate stream flow changes and be aware that removal of constrictions will allow greater pressure at restricted points further downstream. In these cases it may be advisable to start working on the lower end of the section, progressing upstream.

Mechanical removal

Mechanical removal of seedlings, or of larger trees in dry areas. Elimination of young seedlings is a cost effective way of keeping waterways free of potential blockages, erosion and streambed change. Hand pulling of seedlings less than 0.5 m tall is the most practical and environmentally safe way of removing young plants. Leaving small roots in the ground does not lead to suckering or regrowth. Using large machinery such as excavators or bulldozers to remove larger trees and root systems is not recommended except in dry areas. In wet areas bulldozers push broken branches into the ground and thus generate numerous new plants. Disposal recommendations Trees killed while they are standing (ie by stem injection) should be left for 12 months before they are removed. They can then be cut at a suitable height and stacked away from watercourses. If it is necessary to remove live trunks and limbs from the site, stack them to dry above flood level, taking care to minimise the spread of small pieces. Smaller twigs should be bagged and disposed of at tip facilities so that they do not sprout and cause further problems.

Control with herbicides

Stem injection

Herbicides available for woody weeds are effective in controlling willow. Trees can be killed by stem injection, application to leaves and stems, bark (chemical girdling) and cut and paint methods (check with state/territory agencies for current recommendations). In dry conditions herbicide can also be applied by basal bark spraying and treatment of seedlings. Although stem injection may be a slower, more laborious method, it is an important option for avoiding chemical runoff and protecting native vegetation. In general, herbicide should be applied from summer to early autumn, although stem injection or cut and paint application is effective year round.

Stem injection is suited to large trees. Make cuts or drill holes below the branches, around the trunk, 20–30 mm into sapwood. The injection points should be single cuts spaced at less than 130 mm intervals, or holes drilled at 50–100 mm intervals, around the circumference. Angle holes and cuts downwards to minimise herbicide leakage. Herbicide should be immediately injected into each cut or hole at the recommended rate. Leave the tree undisturbed for at least 12 months after herbicide application to ensure a successful kill.

Cut stump application

Cut stump application should only be used to kill willows that can be easily and safely disposed of (ie smaller specimens). Cut the aerial trunk off completely at a level below the first branches and immediately apply a recommended herbicide to the cut stump. Remove all material to prevent regeneration from pieces. The cut surface of the removed stem should also be painted with herbicide for safe disposal. Minimal transport of branches and stems will help avoid broken fragments being spread. Willow wood chips can take root and grow so trees for chipping should be killed prior to removal.

New infestations can occur when trees are cut and moved away from waterways with heavy equipment. Small pieces of branch embedded in the attached soil may take root or enter the water to float away to new sites.

Foliar spraying

The entire plant can be foliar sprayed if it is less than 2 m tall before the start of leaf fall and where herbicides will not affect native plants or make contact with water bodies.

Follow-up

Regrowth from stumps, pieces of stems or seeds will need to be followed up with monitoring and further control for 3–5 years after the initial effort. Check that treated trees have died, and remove trees that could cause problems if they become snared elsewhere by floods. Look for the spread of any new willows and follow up with substantial re-assessments at least every five years.

Herbicide options

WARNING – ALWAYS READ THE LABEL
Users of agricultural or veterinary chemical products must always read the label and any permit, before using the product, and strictly comply with the directions on the label and the conditions of any permit. Users are not absolved from compliance with the directions on the label or the conditions of the permit by reason of any statement made or not made in this information. To view permits or product labels go to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority website www.apvma.gov.au

See Using herbicides for more information.

Glyphosate 360 g/L (Roundup®)
Rate: 1.0–1.3 L in 100 L of water
Comments: Spray to wet all foliage. Use the higher rate for trees 1–2 m high.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate

Glyphosate 360 g/L (Roundup®)
Rate: Undiluted
Comments: Stem injection.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate

Picloram 44.7 g/kg + Aminopyralid 4.47 g/L (Vigilant II ®)
Rate: Undiluted
Comments: Cut stump/stem injection application. Apply a 3–5 mm layer of gel for stems less than 20 mm. Apply 5 mm layer on stems above 20 mm .
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate

Triclopyr 240 g/L + Picloram 120 g/L (Access™ )
Rate: 1.0 L in 15 L of diesel
Comments: Cut stump application. Need to treat all stems.
Withholding period: Nil
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate

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Biosecurity duty

The content provided here is for information purposes only and is taken from the Biosecurity Act 2015 and its subordinate legislation, and the Regional Strategic Weed Management Plans (published by each Local Land Services region in NSW). It describes the state and regional priorities for weeds in New South Wales, Australia.

Area Duty
All of NSW General Biosecurity Duty
All plants are regulated with a general biosecurity duty to prevent, eliminate or minimise any biosecurity risk they may pose. Any person who deals with any plant, who knows (or ought to know) of any biosecurity risk, has a duty to ensure the risk is prevented, eliminated or minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable.
All of NSW Prohibition on dealings
Must not be imported into the State or sold
All species in the Salix genus have this requirement, except Salix babylonica (weeping willows ), Salix x calodendron (pussy willow) and Salix x reichardtii (sterile pussy willow)

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For technical advice and assistance with identification please contact your local council weeds officer.
For further information call the NSW DPI Biosecurity Helpline on 1800 680 244 or send an email to [email protected]

Reviewed 2017

Willow, Weeping (Salix babylonica) potted tree, organic

Family: Willow (Salicaceae)

Hardy to Zones 4 to 10

Fast-growing perennial tree to 50 feet, native to China. Grown from clones of our favorite giant weeping willow and these are extraordinarily well-rooted. They make the classic fountaining form. Weeping willow prefers full sun and ever-moist soil (or daily watering) and will eventually tap into subterranean water if there is any, and in this way attain great size and produce volumes of life-giving shade for human and beast alike. Traditional usage (TWM): Headache and general anti-inflammatory. Source of salicin. We use weeping willow shoot tea extensively in our propagation work, as it is loaded with plant hormones and works as an organic and farm-derived rooting medium. To make the tea, simply cut the branch ends from spring growth of weeping willow and put out in the sun in a bucket of water, allowing the shoots to develop roots and fill the water with growth hormones. Then use the tea to soak seeds before planting (especially recalcitrant ones) or water in cuttings so that they root more completely and faster. It really works! Its free. And its a very good reason to have willow trees around. Space trees 60 feet apart.

Potted tree, Certified Organically Grown

White Willow Care: Learn How To Grow A White Willow

The white willow (Salix alba) is a majestic tree with leaves that have a magic of their own. Tall and graceful, the undersides of its leaves are silvery white, giving the tree its common name. Read on for more white willow information, including tips on how to grow a white willow and white willow care.

What is a White Willow Tree?

White willows are lovely, fast-growing trees that can shoot up to 70 feet in your garden. White willows are not native to this country. Rather, they grow wild in Europe, central Asia and northern Africa. White willow cultivation began in the United States in the 1700s. Over the years, the tree has naturalized in many parts of the country.

Once you read up on white willow information, you’ll know why the tree has many fans. It not only leafs early, but it holds onto its leaves late into autumn. This tree is one of the first to leaf in the spring, and one of the last to drop its leaves in the fall. The bark is furrowed, and the branches droop gracefully, though not as much as a weeping willow. In spring, attractive catkins appear on the trees. The seeds ripen in June.

White Willow Cultivation

These trees thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 8, and generally do not require much white willow care. If you want to grow a white willow, plant it in moist loam. The ideal pH range for white willow cultivation is between 5.5 and 8.0. Choose a sunny spot or at least one with partial sun, since white willows don’t do well in deep shade.

These willows attract wildlife. Many different animals use the spreading branches for cover. They also provide food for the caterpillars of different moth species including the puss moth, willow ermine and red underwing. The catkins provide bees and other insects early spring nectar and pollen.

On the other hand, before you jump into white willow cultivation, you’ll want to note the downsides. These include weak wood; a marked susceptibility to pests and disease; and shallow, moisture-seeking roots.

White Willow Care

For white willow care, irrigation is important – more rather than less. White willows can survive severe flooding but don’t do well with drought. On the other hand, they tolerate sea spray and urban pollution.

Like many willow species, white willows love wetlands. For ideal white willow cultivation, plant your trees around ponds or rivers. That reduces white willow care, since the tree roots have a source of water.

Plant Database

Habitat

  • native to central and southern Europe
  • hardy to zone 2
  • widely naturalized throughout the United States
  • Special Note: This species has demonstrated an invasive tendency in Connecticut, meaning it may escape from cultivation and naturalize in minimally managed areas. For more information, .

Habit and Form

  • a deciduous, large tree
  • branches are low to ground
  • tree has a rounded crown
  • 75′ to 100′ by about two-thirds in width
  • fast growth rate
  • medium texture

Summer Foliage

  • alternate, simple, deciduous leaves
  • lanceolate, serrated leaves
  • 2″ to 4″ long and about 0.5″ wide
  • medium green leaf color
  • underside of leaves are downy with fine hairs

Autumn Foliage

  • leaves turn bronze-yellow in fall
  • leaves drop late

Flowers

  • catkins
  • male flowers showy

Fruit

  • capsule containing numerous glabrous seeds
  • not ornamentally important

Bark

  • yellowish bark that is ridged and furrowed
  • wood is very weak
  • stems a medium yellow which are slender and flexible
  • stems are glabrous
  • bitter taste

Culture

  • fast growing
  • easily transplanted form containers are B&B
  • prefers moist soil
  • prefers to grow along water sources
  • full sun
  • pH adaptable
  • prune in late summer to fall

Landscape Use

  • good tree for wet sites
  • for weeping appearance
  • for fine to medium texture
  • for flowers

Liabilities

  • numerous insect and disease problems: cankers, aphids, powdery mildew, rusts, leaf beetles, etc.
  • constant limb litter under tree
  • ice and wind breakage occurs easily
  • suckers
  • short-lived

ID Features

  • yellow, bitter tasting stems
  • alternate, simple, lanceolate leaves that are serrated
  • always litter under tree
  • generally found on wet sites
  • flowers bottle-brush like

Propagation

  • by cuttings
  • by seed

Cultivars/Varieties

f. argentea (also known as var. sericea and ‘Sericea’) – Notable for its strong silvery leaf color (both leaf surfaces), this plant reaches 60′ tall and may be pruned hard to force vigorous shoots with highly colored foliage.

‘Britzensis’ (also known as ‘Chermesina’) – This form is commonly offered by catalogs for its brilliant winter stem interest. Young, vigorous shoots are colored orange-red, perhaps yellowish in warmer climates. The preferred cultural practice is to cut the plant back to a stump every spring. This treatment (known as stooling) forces vigorous young shoots with strong color. The plant can grow 10′ in one season. ‘Vitellina’ (also known as var. vitellina) is similar, but the stem color is yellow.

‘Tristis’ – This is the “Golden Weeping Willow”, the most common and perhaps hardiest S. alba cultivars. It can become a massive tree in time, growing 50′ to 70′ tall with beautiful weeping branchlets that are suspended by thick, upright branches. The stringy, pendulous branchlets are colored a bright straw yellow that is very prominent in winter. The plant has the same liabilities as the species and often sheds branches and limbs. For this reason, it is best sited away from structures and placed in large spaces, such as adjacent to water features.

White willow

Tree & Plant Care

A great upright willow for moist, wet areas. Trees have a shallow root system.
Full sun and pH adaptable.
Supplemental water in dry periods, plants benefit with a layer of mulch to moderate soil temperature and conserve moisture.
Prune in summer to late fall.

Disease, pests, and problems

Susceptible to ice and windstorm damage.
Numerous insects and disease problems: cankers, powdery mildew, leaf spots, willow leaf beetle, and scale.

Native geographic location and habitat

Central and southern Europe, western Siberia and central Asia.

Bark color and texture

Brown to yellow-brown, corky and furrowed.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Alternate, 1 to 4 inches long, slender, finely toothed, lancolate leaves. Bright green to dark green changing to yellow fall color.
Willows are one of first plants to leaf out in spring.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Dioecious; male and female flowers born in upright catkins. Male flowers are showy. Insect pollinated.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Seeds are a two-valved capsule.

Cultivars and their differences

Golden Weeping Willow (Salix alba ‘Tristis’): A large weeping tree reaching 75-80 feet high and wide. In spring the bright yellow twigs and graceful form are quite showy. One of the first trees to leaf out in the spring. Prone to storm damage.

Golden Willow (Salix alba ‘Vitellina’): This cultivar produces bright yellow stems.

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