pussy willow

(Salix discolor)

Conservation Status
pussy willow
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

N5? - Secure

SNR - Unranked

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
Wetland Indicator Status
     
  Great Plains

FACW - Facultative wetland

     
  Midwest

FACW - Facultative wetland

     
  Northcentral & Northeast

FACW - Facultative wetland

     
           
 
Description
 
 

Pussy willow is a widely recognized, small, deciduous shrub or shrubby tree rising. When a shrub it rises on many stems, when a tree it rises on a few trunks. It often forms clumps. In Minnesota mature trees are usually 10 to 20 tall and up to 12 in diameter at breast height, though individuals can reach 27 in height. They typically live 20 to 50 years.

The crown is open and rounded.

The branches are alternate.

The bark on young trees is grayish-brown, tinged with red, and smooth. On mature trees the bark is thin, light brown to gray, shallowly fissured, and scaly.

The twigs are stout, shiny, and dark reddish-brown, with scattered orange dots (lenticels). When young they are hairy, becoming hairless as they age.

The buds are reddish-purple, shiny, egg-shaped, flattened, and taper to a long point. They are covered with a single cap-like scale. The vegetative buds are about ¼ long, the flower buds are about long.

The leaves are alternate, oblong to narrowly elliptic, firm, 2 to 5 long, and ½ to 1½ wide. They are usually less than 5½ times as long as wide. The blade tapers at the base to a to 1 long leaf stalk, and may be either blunt or pointed at the tip. There is often a pair of small, leaf-like appendages (stipules) at the base of the leaf stalk. Young leaves are reddish and hairy. The upper surface of mature leaves is bright green, shiny, and hairless, with raised veins. The underside is whitish and hairless or sparsely hairy. The margin is untoothed or has shallow, irregular teeth, especially above the middle. In the fall the leaves turn yellow.

Male and female flowers are separate trees. Both flowers are cylindrical catkins on a short stalk with tiny, leaf-like bracts at the base of the stalk. When immature they are densely covered with silky hairs. They are fully developed before the leaves appear. The female catkin is ½ to 1 long and greenish with dark brown scales. The male catkin is ¾ to 1½ long, fuzzy, silvery or white with dark brown scales, and has 2 stamens with yellow anthers. The flowers are pollinated by wind.

The fruit is a small, brown, densely hairy, cylindrical, ¼ to ½ long, long-beaked capsule, containing many seeds. The capsules are attached to 2 to 3 long seed catkins.

 
     
 

Height

 
 

10 to 20

 
     
 

Flower Color

 
 

 

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
  Bebb’s willow (Salix bebbiana) buds are blunt. The leaf upper surface is dull green and wrinkled, not shiny and smooth. The lower surface has whitish hairs and prominent, meshing veins. The margins are somewhat rolled under.  
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Wet. Swamps, wet meadows.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Flowering

 
 

May to June

 
     
 
Use
 
 

 

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 28.

 
  10/25/2017      
         
 

Nativity

 
 

Native

 
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Rosanae  
 

Order

Malpighiales (nances, willows, and allies)  
 

Family

Salicaceae (willow)  
  Subfamily Salicoideae  
  Tribe Saliceae  
  Genus Salix (willow)  
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Salix ancorifera

Salix conformis

Salix crassa

Salix discolor var. overi

Salix discolor var. prinoides

Salix discolor var. rigidior

Salix fuscata

Salix prinoides

Salix sensitiva

Salix squamata

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

large pussy willow

pussy willow

pussy-willow

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Beak

A comparatively short and stout, narrow or prolonged tip on a thickened organ, as on some fruits and seeds.

 

Catkin

A slim, cylindrical, drooping cluster of many flowers. The flowers have no petals and are either male or female but not both.

 

Lenticel

A corky, round or stripe-like, usually raised, pore-like opening in bark that allows for gas exchange.

 

Stipule

A small, leaf-like, scale-like, glandular, or rarely spiny appendage found at the base of a leaf stalk, usually occurring in pairs and usually dropping soon.

       
Visitor Photos
   

Share your photo of this plant.

This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Attach one or more photos and, if you like, a caption.

       
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
   

Plant

  pussy willow   pussy willow
       

Inflorescence

  pussy willow   pussy willow
       

Female Catkins

  pussy willow   pussy willow
       

Leaves

  pussy willow   pussy willow
       

Persistent Large Stipules

  pussy willow    
       
       

 

Camera

     
Slideshows
   
  American Pussy Willow
Andree Reno Sanborn
 
  American Pussy Willow  
 
About

Salix discolor

 
     

 

slideshow

       
Visitor Videos
       

Share your video of this plant.

This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Attach one or more videos or YouTube links and, if you like, a caption.

       
       
Other Videos
 
  Pussy Willows in March with John Latimer
Now Watching KAXE
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Mar 23, 2010

Did you know there are 18 different species of willow shrubs in MN? Did you know a pussy willow is male OR female? Did you know they come in a variety of colors? Did you know you can make willow whistles? Here's the latest in our continuing series Phenology Videos with John Latimer, this time on Pussy Willow:

   
       
  Thousands of bees pollinating in pussy willow tree (Salix discolor)
LOLLipopChoke
 
   
 
About

Published on Apr 26, 2014

Next to my house I heard a faint buzzing noise, I look up into the tree and it was a majestic scene of thousands of different kinds of bees collecting pollen.

   
       

 

Camcorder


Last Updated:

About Us | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | © 2022 MinnesotaSeasons.com. All rights reserved.