Salix candida

candida = white  

Sageleaf or Hoary Willow  

This Vermont native is a tough and beautiful silver-leaved willow that can grow to 10ft, but in my garden after 6 years it is still only 4ft x 4ft. Has wooly silver leaves and stems that turn gray during the summer. Our first plants had female catkins and we recently obtained a male selection with delicate pink flowers (see lower right photos; this is what we will ship in 2019). Grows wild in Northern North America from Alaska to Newfoundland down to WY, CO and SD in areas with cold winters and hot summers. Grows best in full sun and moist soils to which limestone has been added. Hardy to Zone 2.

USES: small ornamental shrub, use in the front of a mixed border or in a rock garden; great in a container.

NB: the drought of 2016-2018 resulted in very poor growth for the female selection, this naturally grows in swampy areas! We have created a new planting bed in the wetter area! I'd plant it in the swamp at the bottom of our property, but beavers would eat it as they eat all the other native willows there!

Salix candida growing wild in the High Peak Fen (Aapa Mire) in Colorado.

This species grows in diverse locations and seems to thrive almost anywhere.

Photo courtesy of Mike Kintgen, Denver Botanic Garden.

The Sage Willow is at home in our garden growing alongside lilies, meadow-rue, Clematis 'Betty Corning' and Amsonia. No special soil preparation was done before planting.

This form of S. candida was found by George Newman in Newfoundland. George is a New Hampshire plantsman with a great eye for the exceptional and a fabulous grower of native plants.

(See next page for more information on this selection)

Distribution of Salix candida in the US

Map used by permission of Dr John Kartesz & BONAP





Present in County

Present in State

Present but rare


Female catkins on a plant in the nursery at left with ovaries more openly spaced.

Female catkins on our original plant at right and below shot in mid-May


of Michael Dodge

Male pussy-willow catkins of Salix candida appear

before the leaves and are simply delightful.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Lindegaard

Male catkins of the Sageleaf Willow

flowering in January 2104 from cut stems!

Male catkins of Salix candida are really delightful, a burst of pink in late April.

Male catkins at their peak with crimson red anthers about to burst with yellow pollen!

I have only seen this intense color in this borrowed photo! I would love to obtain this form!