This magnificent specimen of Salix euxina 'Bullata' is in the Arboretum of the Ottawa Experiment Farm, Canada and they kindly shared cuttings with me from this plant. There is also a specimen in the Montreal Botanic Garden. As far as I know, there are only two perfectly round-headed large willow trees in cultivation: Salix euxina and Salix matsudana v. umbraculifera ('Navajo'). Photo taken mid-May.

Leaves with smooth medium green upper surface (above) and paler undersides (below). Late-October.

Salix fragilis 'Bullata'

euxina = the ancient Greek name for the Black Sea

Roundhead Crack Willow

There is a plant in the North American trade labeled Salix fragilis ‘Bullata’ and I have purchased plants under this name, but they're always mislabelled. They turn out to be Salix xfragilis; one such plant developed androgynous catkins, a certain sign of hybridity! I now have plants from cuttings from the Ottawa tree at right and it has a totally different habit and appearance from Salix x fragilis selections in the nursery. As you can see it grows into a simply spectacular specimen tree. Best if grown with a single trunk by allowing one shoot to grow straight without pruning and by removing all side branches. Probably worth staking for the first 3-4 years to ensure a straight trunk. Cuttings root very easily and the plants grow lustily, so it will take a little work to grow a single stem tree. As the species Salix euxina originated in the Caucasus area of Southeast Europe (Turkey, Georgia and Russia), it is most likely that the 'Bullata' selection appeared in the same area and was taken to Northern European by travelers in the 18thC impressed by the beauty and uniqueness of the tree. Hardy to Zone 4.

USES: An exemplary specimen ornamental tree.

The trunk of the Ottawa specimen.

De-mystifying the fabled Salix fragilis 'Bullata' of Europe and Russia

The photos around this box are Salix fragiis 'Bullata' that I took in Finland July 2017. It is most likely that this selection originated in the Caucasus region of Southeast Europe, where the species was discovered. The Finnish plants of this selection came from Zelenogorsk, Russia around 1785 (Terijoki in Finnish; this area belonged to Finland until WWII when Russia took it over and won't return it [does that sound famiiar?]). It was originally named Salix fragilis 'Bullata' and is a genetic dwarf selection and these untrimmed show their natural shape and density. Their dwarfness and density are not repeated in North America as Northern Europe has a much shorter growing season and cooler summer temperatures!

at left: twigs with black catkin buds in late October.

Winter sunwill change these twigs to a pale tan color by spring.

A young specimen in the garden of the outstanding Salicologist Tapani Uronen in Finland.


of Michael Dodge