Most Famous Willow Tree Varieties and Species
Some of the most popular willow species and how to identify them
Also known as sallows and osiers, a Willow is a deciduous plant from the Salix genus. You can find it in several sizes, growing from small shrubs to massive trees. Native to Northern Hemisphere, these are moisture-loving plants. They thrive in the best in moist and wet areas.
In any modest nursery, you can find at least ten to fourteen different types of willow trees; a relatively bigger nursery may have some twenty varieties. Going by the word of botanists, there are as many as four hundred species of willow trees.
Let us look at them one by one.
In This Article
- Weeping Willow
- Bebb’s willow
- Goat Willow
- Dappled Willow
- Corkscrew willows
- Coyote Willow
- Scouler’s Willow
- Almond Willow
- Desert willows
- Arctic Willow
- Peach-Leaf Willow
- Dwarf Willow
- White Willow
- Purple Osier Willow
Let’s See How Many of These Willow Tree Species You Already Knew?
1. Weeping Willow
|Scientific Name||Salix babylonica|
Native to Northern China, Weeping Willow is fondly known as the Babylon tree. Amongst the different types of willow trees, it is one of the beautiful trees admired mainly for its appearance as it boasts elongated leaves and drooping branches. It has dangling branches and leaves that face the earth, and that’s how it gets its name, weeping willow.
Planting a weeping willow is a perfect landscaping choice because its lance-shaped leaves grab every passerby’s attention. Typically, their leaves grow up to three to six inches and turn yellow during the fall season. Weeping willows can live for three decades.
2. Bebb’s willow
|Scientific Name||Salix bebbiana|
|Size||15 to 25 feet|
Native to Canada and North America, the Bebb’s Willow is one of Northern America’s most commonly found willow tree species. It is one of the fast-growing plants, packed with alternating leaves, growing to five inches. Bebb’s enjoy damp soil. Hence, it is a common sight near streams, lakes, and riverbeds. It yields colorful, fine wood that woodworkers use for carving.
3. Goat Willow
|Scientific Name||Salix caprea|
Native to the UK, you can find the Goat Tree in many European regions and some parts of Asia. Also known as the Pussy Willow, it has grey male flowers that look like the cats’ paws. The Goat Willow is one of the most prevalent willow tree varieties.
It is a broad-leafed tree with a lifespan of 3 centuries when cared for right. It has a mid-green, beautiful plan with oval-shaped leaves. Their leaves are smooth on the top but hairy on the base, and their wood often finds use as charcoal or firewood. It is the favorite plant for the caterpillars.
4. Dappled Willow
|Scientific Name||Salix Integra ‘Hakuro Nishiki’|
|Size||4 to 6 feet|
Of the different types of willow trees, it is considered one of the most beautiful shrubs that give your garden a tint of green with its foliage and cream and white hue at the tips. It is one of the smaller varieties that grow tender straight branches.
Given its stunning appeal, this beautiful variety is also the winner of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. Its showy foliage will add to the attractiveness of your front door and even in the courtyard gardens or formal settings. You can grow these willow tree species in USDA hardiness zones five through seven, where they can receive partial shade to full sun.
5. Corkscrew willows
|Scientific Name||Salix matsudana Tortuosa|
|Size||20 to 40 feet|
Also known as Scarlet Curls, Corkscrew Willow belongs to the Chinese Weeping willow family and is called Corkscrew because of its black to dark brown, upright, and twisted branches that look attractive in winter gardens. The plant has dark brown, narrow leaves, yellow-green catkins, and furrowed bark.
It grows around 2 feet per year. It blooms in the spring, and people employ these willow tree varieties for borders. However, you can also grow them low for flower arrangements and bonsais.
6. Coyote Willow
|Scientific Name||Salix exigua|
It is one of the most widely seen tall varieties in the North American continent, except in the southeast. It was one of the first species to thrive in sandy and gravely soil. Hence, the acceptable range of areas for this shrub is more.
However, of the different kinds of willow trees, it is one endangered in Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Maryland. Many even refer to it as the Narrowleaf Willow, Sandbar Willow, and Dwarf Willow.
7. Scouler’s Willow
|Scientific Name||Salix scouleriana|
Native to western North America, it is one of the smallest varieties and usually grows beside streams and rivers. These willow trees are deciduous and have several wide-spread and fibrous stems that stay strong for a long time.
This diamond-shaped willow can handle mild dry conditions over other willows. The shrub has a whitish lower surface and a dark green upper surface.
8. Almond Willow
|Scientific Name||Salix triandra|
Native to Central and Western Asia and Europe, the Almond Willows have a leaning crown backed by multiple stems. Because of its dark green and dull almond-shaped leaves, it is called the Almond Willow. It is known for its many uses, especially in producing nectar for honeybees.
Similar to other willow tree varieties, it also has male and female catkins, which bloom with new leaves in early spring. It is a small growing plant, a prevalent source of biofuel energy production. Its shoots find use in basket-making in different parts of the world.
In addition, this moisture-hungry plant has multiple edible uses too. You can dry and grind the inner bark in powder form, add it to the cereal flour, and make bread from it. Overall, this is an excellent ornamental willow tree type.
9. Desert willows
|Scientific Name||Chilopsis linearis|
The desert willow thrives in hot climates. Typically considered a unique shrub in the landscape because of its distinct form, size, and color, it is a beautiful plant that attracts birds, bees, and butterflies. Unlike the different kinds of willow trees, Desert Willows are not widely spread. It despises the cold.Learn more about Desert willows in winter.
Hence, it has a curtailed habitable range. But, if you need a visually appealing, medium growth rate willow with spectacular size and color, you can opt for this variety.
10. Arctic Willow
|Scientific Name||Size||5 feet|
As is apparent, the Arctic Willow hails from the Arctic region across the Arctic Ocean. It is unlike the different types of willow trees because it is a creeping, dwarf shrub. It grows to a maximum of five feet and has yellowish-brown or brown branches, which may trail along the ground or stand upright.
The Arctic Willow’s leaves have varying shapes but are majorly round or oval. These are beautiful plants with bright yellow and reddish-pink for the male flowers and purple and pinky-red for the female flowers.
11. Peach-Leaf Willow
|Scientific Name||Salix amygdaloides|
|Size||30 to 50 feet|
These are medium to large-sized willow tree varieties native to Canada and United States. However, you can spot them as far as South Arizona. The tree has a white underside and light green to yellow leaves. They are prevalent across the prairies near streams and rivers. Because they resemble Peach trees, these trees are also called the Peach-leaf willow. Propagated by the seeds, it is fast-growing specie that does not live very long.
Gardeners mainly plant them as filler trees, and the tree helps with soil erosion. You will spot them almost always around the cottonwood trees. Unlike the other different types of willow trees, it does not have an extensive weeping habit, but it does drop slightly. It has a blackish and dark-colored bark with yellow-orange or shiny-brown twigs.
12. Dwarf Willow
|Scientific Name||Salix Herbacea|
|Size||2 to 5 cm|
Prevalent in several eastern regions of Canada and many parts of North America, the Dwarf Willow is a low-growing shrub that barely goes above five inches. As is apparent, it is one of the shortest varieties. They thrive in colder climates, are as hardy as the Salix Arctica, and are prevalent on the mountainous ground. These plants look much like the low-growing bearberry.
Its female catkins are bright yellow, and male species are red, leaving many people to wonder whether they are two same or different plants. Similar to the other different kinds of willow trees or the bay laurel plants, these are dioecious, implying that both female and male flowers blossom on separate plants.
13. White Willow
|Scientific Name||Salix alba|
|Size||50 to 70 feet|
Even though it is possible for the White Willows to be infected by fungi, it has naturally white leaves at the bottom, and that’s how it gets its name. Unfortunately, it is not very good with the landscapes because it is weak and requires a massive amount of space. Sold and marketed as Golden Weeping Willow, it is one of the prevalent varieties in White Willows. It is a fast-growing plant used for weaving baskets.
14. Purple Osier Willow
|Scientific Name||Salix purpurea|
Unlike the other different types of willow trees, the purple willow has some unique features. They have smaller catkins than most willows and are red or purple instead of yellow or white. But, they also have some typical willow plant features. They have an elongated look and are lanceolate in shape.
These trees get their name from their purple shoots during their young days. But, when the tree matures, its stems turn pale gray.
How Can I Tell What Kind Of Willow Tree Varieties I Have?
It is easier to identify the willow trees with their narrow and long leaves with serrated edges. These fast growing willow trees shed their leaves during the fall, with colors alternating between bluish green, dark green, and light green. They are also famous for their branches that follow a drooping habit. However, they do not have a very long lifespan.
Here are some attributes that can help with the identification of the willow tree species:
1. Willow Tree leaves
Willow trees have linear and feather-veined leaves. Its leaves are long, thin, and round towards the base and tapering toward the end. Its stipules appear like tiny leaves, and they have short petioles. Their leaves depict a green hue with a mix of light blue and yellow.
2. Willow Tree Bark
Willows tend to have a gray-brown bark with ridges that criss-cross. Its new shoots are slender, hairy, and soft at first.
3. Willow tree trunk
The tree’s trunk has large ascending limbs or branches.
4. Willow tree flowers
In willows, the male flowers comprise two to ten stamens, backed by nectareous glands, lying at the square, hairy scale’s base. Its rose-colored Athens lies in the bud. They turn purple or orange once the flower blooms. On the contrary, its female flowers have one ovary with a flat nectar gland that sits at the scale’s base.
Frequently Asked Questions
Ques 1. Where do willow trees grow?
Ans. Native to China, Willows are spread and planted across North America. They are also present in Ontario, west of Missouri, and the South of Georgia. You will spot these species in moist soils, typically near a water body.
Ques 2. How many years do willow trees live?
Ans. Most willows start to fall apart at the age of twenty, but it is still possible for them to live for at least 3-4 decades. The oldest willow is the gnarled Methuselah, about 5000 years old.
Ques 3. Are there small willow trees?
Ans.Several willow tree varieties are small, such as the Dappled willow, Dwarf willow, Arctic willow, and more.
Ques 4. Do willow trees attract snakes?
Ans. Willow trees are the best shelter for snakes because of the cover they offer and their proximity to a water source.
Ques 5. Where should you not plant a weeping willow tree?
Ans. Weeping willows have long roots. Thus, you must never plant them near underground power lines, sewers or very close to the house.
Ques 6. Which is the largest willow tree species?
Ans.Salix nigra Marsh or Black willow is the largest and the most commercially employed willow tree species.
So, these are a few varieties of willows. You can opt for their bonsai or shrub version as well. They are all beautiful and work well as ornamental trees. Many willows have several health benefits, but the pro you get depends on your chosen species.