for Spring 2017
Salix alba var vitellina ‘Britzensis’
alba = white vitellina = like egg yolk
Britz = a town in Germany
'Britzensis' is a male cultivar with young stems that are the reddest willow we grow! It was raised from seed in the town of Britz in Germany and could possibly be a hybrid. Incidentally, this is not the same as the German cultivar ‘Chermesina’ even though some nurseries claim they are the same. It grows as an upright, relatively small tree, but much better if coppiced or pollarded. The young leaves of coppiced plants have the same silver-gray hairs as the species S. alba. The Montreal Botanic Garden has a mature pollarded specimen that is truly amazing all winter (see photos at right)! Will grow in poor soils as long as they are not too dry. Hardy to Zone 3.
USES: Outstanding for winter color in a vase, container or in the garden. Best if coppiced/pollarded yearly as the young stems have the most color. Can be cut and dried for basket making and other objet d’art.
A pollarded ‘Britzensis’ at the Montreal Botanical Garden
Late-June left, late-April right.
Even in summer the stems are red. This is from a cutting stuck in April.
Brilliant red stems against a blue April winter sky. Perfection!
This twiggy growth is an easy way of telling S. alba selections from S. x fragilis selections.
Coppiced 'Britzensis' in the Royal Horticultural Gardens at Wisley, south of London in February.
Who can resist having this great plant when it provides such bright color in drab northern winters?
By the way, I prefer to coppice mine closer to the ground, looks a little odd on legs!
Just as spring bursts, so do the male catkins on Britzensis,
providing bright golden-yellow sparkles among the green leaves and red stems. Early-May.
'Britzensis' leaves have a fine, saw-tooth edge; start silky with fine hairs and the undersides gradually lose the fine hair but remain glaucous with a waxy covering. The catkin buds are typically flattened. These are all characteristics of S. alba and its hybrids. Stems are red on top and green underneath in reaction to sunlight on top and shade below.
A four-year-old plant in the nursery. Allowed to grow to display the upright habit of this plant if not coppiced. See below left without leaves against an intense blue sky! Shown in late September.
A mature plant at the Holden Arboretum in Ohio showing the upright habit of 'Britzensis'
and the colorful March stems. Great placement with White Pines in the background!
Coppiced 'Britzensis' in the nursery in October.
Such a great color!
At right: two photos show the elegance and erect habit of this superlative tree.
Not a perfect match, but I'm sure you an forgive this attempt! We don't have Photoshop!
Shown in mid-April
Leaves of 'Britzensis' on 1/4in graph paper so you can see the scale of young foliage
Young standards at the Montreal BG in April and June.
Overwintered flower buds typical of Salix alba, shown in mid-April.
A flourishing hedge of different Salix cultivars in the Oslo Botanic Garden, Norway June 2017.
'Britzensis' is the first willow on the right. A nice screen for anyone with nosy neighbours!
'Britzensis' at the Holden Arboretum, Ohio.
Such a great color!
of Michael Dodge