Salix alba var vitellina 'Aurea'

avab = white, vitellina = yellow   aurea = golden

previously Salix alba 'Aurea'

Gold-leaf Willow

The Gold-leaf Willow is one of the most striking willows in the summer garden due to its bright golden yellow leaves. Newsholme, in his book "Willows, The Genus Salix" calls it "one of the most beautiful of all ornamental trees". I have grown this for a number of years and found it to be quite different from similar cultivars in that it is relatively slow to grow. In growth habit it is more like Salix x alba f. vitellina 'Flame'. In 2017 it produced catkins for the first time (it took 9 years) and the catkins were female. Avoid planting them in hot weather.  'Aurea' must be grown in full sun to produce the golden leaves! Hardy to Zone 3.

USES: A very special ornamental specimen tree of modest stature.



Salix 'Aurea' growing in the nursery during late August 2015.

When everything else is green around it, 'Aurea' puts on this incredible golden display, with red tips of the new leaves as does the neighbouring S. eriocephala 'American Mackay' behind!

This combination is in one of our borders photographed in shade so the leaves of the Goldleaf Willow aren't as bright. With it are a purple smoke bush (Cotinus) and Gold-leaf Pineapple Sage. Shown in late-August

The golden yellow foliage of young plants in the nursery with red young leaves and stems. Stems are redder, leaves are brighter when grown in full sun!

A large clump at the Montreal Botanic Garden we discovered in 2016. Late-September.

It has been coppiced several times to achieve this shape and is probably several plants in a group.

Late august in the nursery; brilliant yellow mature leaves and red new growth.

Female catkins appeared on my original plant after 9 years in late May 2107.

Unlike pussy willows, they aren't very exciting!

But judging by the fattening ovaries, bees found them more interesting than we did!

Early March and the twigs are amber colored and for the first time have flower buds.

left: typical alba flattened catkin buds on slightly fuzzy stems in October.

right: in early March the twigs have turned to amber.


of Michael Dodge