for Spring 2020
Salix discolor USDA Select
discolor = two colors
(referring to the leaves that are green on one side and white on the underside)
American Pussy Willow
This is an exceptional female selection of S. discolor selected by the USDA Farm in Big Flats NY for cut-stem production (PMC 910632). It is one of the most vigorous selections of this species and can grow to 8-9ft in a single year after coppicing. It is extremely floriferous with many more flowers per stem than usual. Like the species it is a native plant. Flower buds are almost black and the showy female silver pussy willows appear before the leaves. After pollination the green flowers extend to 3-4in in length, much longer than wild plants. Leaves are shiny dark green above with a smooth texture and velvety-white beneath. Coppiced every year, this plant will yield greater and greater yields for up to 10 years or more. It's a showy ornamental plant with young red stems that turn almost black in Winter. Grows well in almost any soil including very wet areas. Hardy to Zone 3.
USES: ornamental and late winter cut flower; great for bee keepers! This is also a great native willow to use for living structures and for stream bank restoration because of its vigour.
Flowers bursting out of their bud scales in early April, in a similar manner to those of Salix caprea.
The young female catkins are free from the case that enclosed them for the winter in early April. After the initial silver of the pussies, they turn pinkish-red.
Then the female parts burst out of their winter protection and the display turns to green.
Flower buds appear in autumn in the axils of the leaves and are bright red at first if the sun gets to them; then they turn brown and then black during winter. Small stipules appear at the base of the petioles. Stems are still downy at summer's end.
Female catkins are in peak bloom and nectar abounds attracting bees from afar. This selection produces the longest female flowers, thus the most nectar for bees! Early May.
Shiny green leaves on the upper surface and glaucous gray-green on the underside.
Glands on the serrated edges of the leaves. Green stipules at the base of the leaf petioles. September.
of Michael Dodge