Salix acutifolia

acutifolia = short-pointed leaf  

Sharp-leaf Willow

A showy female selection of a species that grows wild in Russia and east-Asia and is closely related to S. daphnoides. It differs from S. daphnoides in that the leaves are much thinner in texture and are very pointed. It can grow to 20ft x 10ft, but better if coppiced every 2-3 years to encourage vigorous young growth. Young twigs are dark red-purple and mature stems are covered with a vivid white bloom (glaucous). Leaves are long, narrow, pointed, bright green and somewhat weeping. Pointed silvery-white catkins to 2in show early in March-April well before the leaves appear. In early autumn the leaves turn bright yellow; one of the few willows that have great fall color (S. daphnoides does not do this). Very showy in the winter landscape against dark conifers. Grow in full sun; moist, not wet soils; not fussy about pH. Hardy to Zone 4.

USES: all-season ornamental shrub; cut stems for winter displays.



The Wonderful World of Willows

Young green shoots appear along the red stems that are hidden by the white waxy "bloom" that easily rubs off. Early May

These shoots are a little older than those at left and clearly show the red stems that in the following year will be covered in the white "bloom".

These stems appear pink from the red coloring of the stems showing through the "bloom". This bloom can last a long time on stems cut and brought inside, if friends can stop themselves from rubbing it off!


A coppiced plant in late winter showing that the "bloom" has disappeared naturally. Also shows the variability of the diameter of stems after coppicing.


A coppiced plant providing a number of long rods that make wonderful cut stems for bringing indoors. Don't put them in water as they last must longer when dry! Early-May

The trunk of a six year-old tree

with an intricate bark pattern. Mid-April

The same tree as at left. Few people could identify that this is a willow by its bark!

Our original plant from cuttings from a friend. It is about 10ft tall after 6 years, and frequent pruning for cuttings! Early-May

left: Young female catkins sparkle along grayish-red stems, with stigmas ready to receive pollen. Right: a pollenated flower with swelling ovaries. Mid-April photos!

Salix acutifolia 'Moscow Weeping' is new to us; shown in mid-Summer

This 5ft branch is growing horizontally along the ground!

It will take us 3-4 years to build up stock and find out how best to grow it.

It came from a plant that was about 8ft high and maybe 15ft wide. The generous people at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden allowed us to take cuttings in exchange for finding out what its name was. I suspected it was allied to acutifolia or daphnoides.

I asked Dr. Julia Kuzovkina of the University of Connecticut about this and she told me that in her search for correct cultivar names she came across the name Salix acutifolia 'Pendula' this but had not listed it in her "2105 Checklist for Cultivars of Salix L., (willow)". Later Julia had tld me that it's name had been changed to Salix acutifolia 'Moscow Weeping' as that is where it had been first located. This is not the same as Salix acutifolia 'Pendulifolia', which maybe be the same as 'Blue Streak' as the leaves weep, not the branches,

Salix acutifolia 'Moscow Weeping' ('Pendula') at the Westonbirt National Arboretum, UK.  

I found this photo in an Internet search and it was shown by an English Nursery as Salix daphnoides and I was told me the photo had come from Westonbirt. So I contacted them and was told they had lost this plant, but had propagated many more before it died. They had the name Salix daphnoides 'Aglaia' on their plant; that is a very different species and cultivar. So I gave them the correct name.

I had visited the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to help them identify the Salix species in their collections. I found this plant and assumed it was a Salix acutifolia selection (whitish stems and long pointed leaves). For my assistance, I was allowed to take cuttings and they rooted easily. Later I described this plant to Prof. Julia Kuzovkina of the University of Connecticut and she told me what it was! It had been discovered in the Moscow Botanical Garden and had been given the cultivar name 'Pendula', but later changed it to Salix acutifolia  'Moscow Weeping'.

Below: A plant for future listing!

Six inch long leaves, pointed flower buds and flowers when first open.

The brilliant yellow autumn colour should be spectacular too!

Young red stems with bright green leaves appear at the base of coppiced stems.

Late May

$14.50 per bundle of 5

The whiteness of these stems is quite startling in mid-winter either in the garden or as cut stems.