Salix alba var vitellina ‘Chermesina’          

alba = white   chermesina = crimson

Chermesina Willow

This German cultivar of the Fragile Willow forms a tall, columnar tree, growing to at least 50ft. Noted for its crimson young stems in winter and orange stems in summer, so it’s often coppiced every 1-2 years to encourage vigorous colorful new growth. Can be also be pollarded. Grow in full sun to get best color, in moist or wet soil. Do not plant near drainage pipes/septic systems. Often confused with S. alba 'Britzensis' in Public Gardens and nurseries--easy to tell which it is by bending second-year wood backwards--if it snaps  easily, it's 'Chermesina'. Also, the young leaves of 'Britzensis', especially on coppiced plants, have lots of silvery-gray hairs (as does S. alba). Hardy to Zone 4.

USES: winter ornamental, cut stems for winter displays, tall living structures. Makes a great alternative to Lombardy Poplar that is so disease prone.

cultivar = cultivated variety, a selection of a species with distinguishing features.

Young plants in the nursery

one year after coppicing. Mid-April.

18ft rods after three years in the nursery and used in the living structure at left.  Mid-April.

The older part of the trunk retains it’s color for a few years; not as bright as young growth, but still colorful.

Young leaves show the typical dark green on top and silvery underneath, typical of S. alba and it's cultivars. See below also:

Three year old trunk with bright orange

young growth. Mid-August.



Twelve 14-18ft rods were cut to make a circle where I lie down to watch clouds float by against a blue sky. When it's dense enough, only our dogs will find me! Early October.

Male catkins appear at the same time as the new leaves in early May.

An older tree in the Holden Arboretum, Ohio showing its upright–pyramidal habit. Early April.

This specimen was planted in gravel in the foundations of an old barn, long since removed, on oour property. It is now about 30ft tall.

late April

A fairly young tree tree in the truly amazing

Montreal Botanic Garden. Late Summer.

above and below! The lower part of the trunk of a two-year plant grown from cuttings

from the plant at left from the

Holden Arboretum.

Young red stems with flattened flower buds in mid-October; also from the tree at far left!

Foliage of the plants from the tree at far left!

Undersides of the leaves sparkle during a wind making a delightful splash! Early October.

Late September.


of Michael Dodge