Pussy Willow (Salix discolor)

Common names:
Give a thumbs up Pussy Willow
Give a thumbs up Pussy-willow
Give a thumbs up American Pussy-willow

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Shrub
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Water Preferences: Wet
Wet Mesic
Mesic
Soil pH Preferences: Neutral (6.6 – 7.3)
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 2 -45.6 °C (-50 °F) to -42.8 °C (-45°F)
Maximum recommended zone: Zone 7b
Plant Height: 15-20 feet (4.5-6.0 m)
Plant Spread: 8-10 feet (2.5-3.0 m)
Leaves: Deciduous
Broadleaf
Fruit: Other: green to yellow strobile releasing tiny seed with tufted hair
Fruiting Time: Spring
Flowers: Showy
Flower Color: Other: silver-gray
Bloom Size: Under 1"
Flower Time: Late winter or early spring
Uses: Windbreak or Hedge
Erosion control
Will Naturalize
Dynamic Accumulator: Mg (Magnesium)
Wildlife Attractant: Bees
Birds
Butterflies
Other Beneficial Insects
Resistances: Flood Resistant
Drought tolerant
Salt tolerant
Propagation: Seeds: Sow in situ
Other info: seeds have no dormancy and germinate within one day in soil
Propagation: Other methods: Cuttings: Stem
Pollinators: Various insects
Miscellaneous: Tolerates poor soil
Dioecious
Conservation status: Least Concern (LC)

Conservation status:
Conservation status: Least Concern
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Comments:
Posted by Bonehead (Planet Earth - Zone 8b) on Oct 29, 2017 9:01 AM

Native across Canada, south to Montana, South Dakota and Delaware. Found along roads, wetlands, and in disturbed areas. Critical early pollen source for various insects. Easy to propagate - just snip off a whip and it will root easily in a vase of water.

"It is a poor pussy willow that does not have a song sparrow perched in it at this season, his throat vibrating with the tumbled, jingling notes of his early love song." ~Donald Culross Peattie

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Posted by ILPARW (southeast Pennsylvania - Zone 6b) on Dec 17, 2017 6:51 PM

The American Pussy Willow is often confused with the Goat Willow or Eurasian Pussy Willow (Salix caprea), as they are very similar. The Eurasian species is the one sold at conventional garden centers and nurseries. One must go to a native plant nursery to buy the American Pussy Willow. The American species has twigs that are at first dull bright green then to reddish-purple then to deep dark brown. The tiny leaf buds are dark brown or nearly black. The leaves of about 2 to 4 inches long are bluish-white and bloomy underneath. (The European species has lustrous brown twigs and buds are red to brown. Its leaves are gray and woolly beneath and have a wrinkled aspect.) Both species are dioecious in having separate male and female plants. It is the male form of both species that has the prettier pussy flowers that have the yellow tipped anthers showing when in full bloom. The tiny seeds are eaten by birds and small mammals from the female plants. The Eurasian species has slightly larger flowers than the American, which is why it is preferred by the conventional nurseries, though the difference is still slight. The American Pussy Willow, like the Eurasian, is fast growing of 3 to 6 feet/year and lives up to 50 years, has a shallow' fibrous root system and is easy to transplant. It is weak-wooded and picked on by cankers and leaf blights. Pussy Willow has a large native range from southeast Canada through New England down the Appalachians to eastern Tennessee, all around the Great lakes, western Ontario into central British Columbia with some spots in the northern Rocky Mountains. I have occasionally seen some wild Pussy Willows in northern Pennsylvania; otherwise, only a few at arboretums.

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Posted by Bonehead (Planet Earth - Zone 8b) on Mar 9, 2019 12:00 PM

According to an old Polish legend, a mother cat was crying at the bank of a river her kittens had fallen in and were drowning. The willows at the river's edge swept their long branches into the river, the tiny kittens gripped tightly to the branches, and were brought safely to shore. Ever since, in spring the willow branches sprout tiny furry buds at their tips where the kittens once clung.

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Discussion Threads about this plant
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Virginia Tree IDs by Alexjoy Jul 13, 2017 5:29 PM 3
Weed, shrub, tree ? by jsf67 Apr 11, 2017 9:33 AM 3

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