A coppiced Black Willow at the Morton Arboretum, Illinois, that has produced many stems after the trunk was cut down to the ground. Tough? I’ll say it is.


Salix nigra  

nigra = black

Eastern Black Willow

Another vigorous species, the Black Willow will grow over a 100ft tall; it makes an imposing tree with deeply furrowed bark. It is the largest-growing native willow in the USA and grows wild in the Eastern half of the country. It one of the most common trees in Vermont on river banks and other damp areas; I’ve even found it growing in a foot of water in Lake Champlain. We have a tiny plant on my property beside a beaver pond--obviously there were more before supper! It has now been caged! It has bright green, twiggy young growth that is great if dried and used as plant supports for perennials (if you don’t dry them they’ll start to grow!). Black Willow is represented in the West by the botanically similar Salix gooddingii that I have recently obtained cuttings of. I'm interested to see how it likes New England! Hardy to Zone 3.

USES: Black Willow is useful for large living structures and coarse basketry; it has been used for furniture, cabinets, doors, boxes, barrels and toys; as a shade tree and to reduce water pollution as the roots intercept nutrients before they run off into streams and ponds from farmer’s fields. Great for stream-bank restoration projects as 2-4ft lengths 2-4in wide can be hammered into banks and root quickly to hold against erosion. Can be used in shelter belts to reduce wind or as a screen to hide undesirable objects/neighbors. It is used for firewood as it burns easily when dry and is great for getting a fire going.

The foliage of the Black willow is typical willow shaped with saw-like (serrated) edges to the leaves

and leafy green stipules at the base of the leaves.

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Present in County

Present in State

Present but rare

Distribution of Salix nigra in the US

Map used by permission of Dr John Kartesz & BONAP


S. nigra and a few S. amygdaloides line this edge of Lake Champlain and their bases are frequently under water. Behind are taller Maples on more elevated ground.

below: Plants in the nursery with foliage is as graceful as any willow in our collection!

A two-year stem of a previously coppiced plant.

Black Willow growing in/beside Lake Champlain VT. Are Willows moisture loving?

The Wonderful World of Willows

Vermont Willow Nursery

$12.50 per bundle of 5


Male catkin at left and female at right. We have no idea which ours are as they haven't flowered yet!

A young plant of Salix nigra on a sandbar in South Hero, VT that frequently gets submerged with spring floods, hence it probably will never grow into a tree.

Trunk of an old tree with bark that looks more like a maple!

Detail of the graceful leaves of this native species.

below, the same tree as above, years later?