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 (sadly these died to the ground in the winter of '18/'19, but sprouted at the base. Hardy to Zone 3. Dried rod color: tan to khaki
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 has saw-like (serrated) edges to the leaves and stipules in Spring.
and leafy green stipules at the base of the leaves. (left: early October, right: early August)
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
below: Plants in the nursery with foliage is as graceful as any willow in our collection!
Black Willow growing in/beside Lake Champlain VT. Are Willows moisture loving?
Notice all the seedlings of the black willow growing in the gravel! Early August.
The Wonderful World of Willows
Vermont Willow Nursery
$14.50 per bundle of 5
Female catkins with stimas starting to mature at left (May 11) and fertilized female catkins at right (June 10)
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.
Male catkins on a group of plants in the nursery that flowered for the first time in late May 2017.
Sadly these plants all died in the winter of 2018-9. Originating in Arkansas they didn't like our winters.
Left: bark of a tree in Arkansas Right:bark of a tree in Vermont
Climate differences and variability due to isolation?
Left: bark young tree in more shade. Right: bark of a young tree in more sun.
Late October, Fall color behind!
In mid-October they has lost their stipules and some twigs turn red.
Do you have a wet spot that needs a willow? Here's your answer, unless it's salt water.
Salix nigra in Lake Champlain in mid-June.
Fall color on the Black Willow in Bentonville mid-November.
This is the most common willow in Northwest Arkansas.