Salix eriocephala

erio = wooly, cephala = head

referring to the female flowers

when the fruit is ripe

Wooly-head Willow, Missouri Willow (where it was first named)

A North American willow that is native to our property in Vermont. It is an attractive shrub with long, straight stems that are covered with catkins in April-May; the male form is especially attractive for flower arrangements. Forms a shrub that can grow 10-20ft tall, but better if coppiced every 2-3 years to get more young flowering stems. Ours are often coppiced by beavers in the swampy areas of our property and the following year there is an abundance of long this straight stems. Hardy to Zone 3.

USES: ornamental shrub, cut stems, basketry

Fertilized female catkins starting to swell.

S. eriocephala growing beside Lake Champlain VT near where George Argus, the Canadian Salicologist,

found S. amygdaloides, that was not thought to be present in Vermont.

Growing in the rocks used to protect the shoreline from the waves. It'll grow just about anywhere!

Obviously the roots are down in the water!

One of the easiest identifying characteristic of S. eriocephala is the long whip-like stems

covered in flowers. Here seen growing in the nursery

Young growth is tinged red and turn to fresh green leaves with green stipules clasping the base of the petiole.

In autumn, next years flower buds elongate and are covered with black bud scales.

As the leaves turn yellow the pink petioles add more color.




Present in County

Present in State

Present but rare

Distribution of Salix eriocephala in the US

Map used by permission of Dr John Kartesz & BONAP


Below are female catkins in varying stages of development.

Unfertilized female catkins with pink stigmas and hairy ovaries make an appealing show.

Below are male catkins in varying stages of development.

A native S. eriocephala in a swampy part of our property. It produces lots of male catkins in late winter.

That's a female S. discolor behind, right with large green fertilized flowers.


Three vigorous plants in the nursery of a wild collected female selection.

Lots of vigour in this species!

Here's a leaf hanging on to its summer green.

In late October the leaves and stipules turn bright yellow.

Pine Cone Willow Gall, caused by a midge (Rabdophaga strobiloides)

The photograph on the right is a close up of the androgynous catkin in the left photo!

The lower 80% of the vertical catkin is female and the top is male.

This is the first time I have seen this on a species, only on hybrids before this!

A mature plant in the Montreal Botanic Garden showing the typical vase shaped habit.

The tree behind right that is leaning badly is Salix xsmithiana and even though it is in a dreadful state,

it flowers consistently and abundantly. A will(ow) to live.


of Michael Dodge