Salix 'Aquatica Gigantea Germany'
aquatica = grows by water
This selection was developed in Sweden as part of their willows for biofuels program. The parentage is very mixed and almost impossible to determine. It probably involves S. viminalis and S. gmelinii (S. dasyclados). This breeding program was started after the first Gulf War in order reduce their reliance on Middle-Eastern petroleum. It's one vigorous son-of-a-gun and of the earliest varieties to flower, even as early as late March in Northern Vermont! These female catkins start silver and gradually turn gray-green as they expand to 2in plus. Mature leaves are some of the largest of all hardy willows, reaching 8–10in long (that's where the "Gigantea" comes from). Will grow to 18ft in two years after coppicing; this encourages young shoots that produce the most flowers. As the name indicates it can tolerate damp soils and flowers best in full sun. As with all trees, do not plant near drainage pipes/septic systems. Hardy to Zone 3.
USES: large ornamental shrub, but coppiced every 3-4 years to produce lots of young stems to enhance the winter landscape; long-lasting as a cut flower and can be forced into flower after the turn of the year. Good for large garden structures, coarse basketry and, of course, biofuels. Why is the USA so far behind on this?
Typical abundant growth from a coppiced plants in July.
As stems mature they lose their felt and turn green-brown
This is one of the largest leaf of any willow we grow.
Stages of development of the female catkins early to late March.
A bee enjoys the nectar of the female catkins.
The fragrance of the nectar carries far for bees to track.
The mature female catkins shows its relationship to Salix viminalis with the branched orange-yellow stigmas.
Female catkins that are post-pollination with bellies swelling!
New growth, sprouting at an amazingly fast rate! Early May.
Green flower buds starting to develop in the axils of the leaves. They'll turn light brown as summer turns to autumn!
Here's a vegetative bud sprouting. Much smaller than flower buds, so easy to tell which is which!
This is a strange occurence, a September bloom at the tip of a stem. Much longer than the spring catkins.
Here are female catkins with swollen ovaries, obviously loved by bees and other flying insects.
Photo in early May
of Michael Dodge