Salix aurita x viminalis

aurita = eared  viminalis = osier

Hybrid Eared Willow  

Another plant from the Chicago Botanical Garden where it was labelled Salix aurita. When I saw the label I knew something was wrong as aurita has small leaves with noticeable stipules at the base of the leaves, hence the common name eared willow. Another problem with it was that Salix aurita is a fairly small tree, whereas these were 15-20 ft specimens. In my nursery they shot up like an Osier and strangely never flowered for me, even though the plants in the CBG flowered regularly with female catkins. They also have a male specimen, but this is a spindly weak plant in comparison to its half sister; my plant from cuttings is only 1/3 the size of the two gal hybrids! Hardy to at least Zone 4.

USES: An imposing small tree with attractive foliage. Makes a dense hedge or windbreak. May be useful for firewood and biomass because of its rapid, heavy growth.

These two plants side by side in the Chicago Botanic Garden are Salix aurita male at right

and the female hybrid towering over-head on the left, behind the male. Mid-May

Here are the leaves of this hybrid, looking more like aurita than viminalis, but the absence of the ear-like stipules is what defines this.

The undersides of the leaves are glaucous blue and lack the ash-gray pubescence of aurita. Mid-May

Here are the fertilized female catkins of this hybrid already starting to split the ovaries and release the white fluffy hairs that carry the seeds away in the wind. Mid-May

The furry female catkins start gray, turn green, the stigmas are small orange-red dots at the tips of the hairy ovaries. New leaves appear from small side shoots. Early May

These are vigorous young shoots growing in the nursery in September.

The undersides of the leaves are glaucous blue at first, but soon lose that; the upper sides are a mid-green

The leaf shape is botanically oblanceolate, as the widest part of the leaf is on the upper side of the middle.

The stipules (leafy appendages at the base of the leaf petiole) are small.

This is Salix aurita in the Edinburgh Botanic Garden showing how much grayer the leaves of the species are. Taken in mid-September.

At right is a young shoot of Salix aurita with the large stipules at the base of the leaf petiole that give this species the name "Eared Willow".

See red arrow.

French Internet photo.


This is the vigorous female hybrid of aurita and viminalis shot in mid-May at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

This hybrid produces masses of catkins, therefore seeds. The male beside it certainly was a fertile fellow!

This is the vigorous female hybrid of aurita and viminalis shot in early-May in the nursery. All the green on this specimen are female catkins.


of Michael Dodge