Salix purpurea ‘Oka’  

purpurea = purple

Oka Violet Willow

This is a very old French basketry selection that was found in the grounds of Oka Abbey, Quebec and has been cultivated in that area for many years by basket-makers. It came to me as a selection of S. daphnoides but it is a purpurea. I am guessing that it's an old French selection brought over by the original inhabitants of the Abbey! Leaves are opposite as in most purpureas, reddish at first and then blue-green at maturity. Annual coppicing produces lots of slender rods 8-9ft long that start red, turn green then a nice brown shade when boiled for flexible dry rods. Peels easily for basketry. This is the only purpurea selection that doesn't flower the first year after coppicing so I left some stems uncoppiced and they had male catkins with unusual blue tints! Grow in full sun in average-moist soil; but will tolerate dry, sandy situations. Like all purpureas this is deer resistant. Hardy to Zone 4.

USES: as the rods from coppicing are slender, tall and pliable they are useful dried for basketry and fresh for living structures and fedges.

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'Oka' has very slender rods that are very useful for basketry.

It's a vigorous variety like most purpureas.  Mid June.

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Elegant and colorful young foliage and stems. Thin straight rods, perfect for basketry!  Mid June.

Leaves are blue green above and below when mature. Mid June.

The male catkins have very distinct coloring with bluish tints at the top. Late April.