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The Wonderful World of Willows

Vermont Willow Nursery

Salix rorida

rorida = dewy  

Pink-bud Willow

In 2016 we discovered that we had the wrong name on this plant! While working with the taxonomist at the Montreal Botanic Garden I spotted Salix rorida and realized that was was the correct species for something I was puzzled about for years. I was allowed to take a shoot and compare it with my plants and verify the identity. I love plant detective stories! That being said, this is a great ornamental species from China, Japan, Korea and Russia and deserves a place in everyone's garden! It's a very vigorous grower with glossy, bright green stems that are covered with white waxy "bloom" when young (like a black grape or plum). It has been suggested that this bloom protects the plant from ants carrying aphids etc. up their slippery stems or perhaps from sun-scald in winter! The trunk remains green for a number of years, then turns gray-green. Leaves are shiny green with a long tapering point at the tip and finely serrated (toothed) edges (like the closely related S. acutifolia). In early Autumn the leaves turn bright yellow as does the species S. acutifolia (S. daphnoides, another close relative, does not turn yellow in Autumn and the leaves are much thicker and have coarser serrations). In July masses of large, pale-pink buds develop and by late summer they turn deep pink and finally bright red. In late winter these male catkins open a bright white; gradually turn yellow with pollen and finally gray. They last for weeks on the plant or in a vase. If not coppiced this grows into a small tree.

This willow vies with 'Winter Green' for being the most versatile willow! Hardy to Zone 4.

USES: great for ornamental uses in the garden, winter displays and cut flower; as the rods from coppicing are tall and pliable they are useful dried for making baskets and fresh for living structures, although they are quite twiggy.  

$12.50 per bundle of 5



Late July and the overwintering flower buds are developing.

Mid-September and the flower buds start green, then pink and gradually turn red.

Eight months of interesting color!

Fresh green leaves even in late summer;

flower buds forming in the axils of the leaves.

This is a fairly upright growing small tree with lovely green twigs and branches.

Green bark on second year wood (left) and third year (right)

Mid-April and in full flower; they last for weeks.

Vigorous green shoots in the nursery with second-year twigs.

Smooth green leaves with serrated edges and prominent central veins; plus colorful red young twigs.


The undersides of the leaves are also very smooth and a paler shade of green.

Small rounded stipules appear at the base of the leaf petioles.

Left: flower buds in October; Center: buds opening in early April; Right: pussy willows!

New growth starting as the pollen is starting to show.

right: a male catkin with pollen showing

Colors of the showiest willow in autumn.

Yellow leaves and pink flower buds, such a show-off!

Snow doesn't damage the catkins, but enhances the show! Early April!

This is not a black and white photo!

Name change!

formerly Salix acutifolia 'Green'

Third-year bark, still green

Fifth-year bark, now gray.

Damage by a yellow-bellied sapsucker. This tree will probably die above the damage.

These four photos were shot in the Oslo Botanica Garden in late June 2017. Fabulous foliage, dark, shiny green on the upper side, glaucous underneath; that's my hand measuring the 6.5in leaves.

Below shows the details of the long narrow stipules.                           Unfortunately the approximately20ft tree wasn't such a great specimen.