Crack Willows by the Susquehanna River in NY State with rounded compact habit and like fluffy green clouds!

The tree above, below and left is where our stock came from. The ducks were a bonus!

We thought a perfect name would be Cloud Willow! Mid-August.



The young growth of the Cloud Willow is green on both both sides unlike other Hybrid Crack Willows that are whitish on the undersides when young; that characteristic came from S. alba. The bright red young stems was an unexpected bonus.

Salix fragilis 'River Cloud' in the nursery after two years.

Great looking foliage and long straight, thin rods. Mid-August.

Above a group of juvenile Red Breasted Mergansers swimming past the Crack Willow.

right: the trunk with its deep

furrows are typical of

Salix fragilis.

Red stems with orange-red overwintering flower buds in late October.

Typical Salix fragilis leaves with smooth medium green upper surface and paler undersides. Late-October.

Salix fragilis 'River Cloud'

fragilis = fragile

Cloud Willow

In 2014 I spotted a large group of cloud-like trees near the Susquehanna River in New York State that made me jump out of the car as I had never seen this Salix before! I thought I had found the fabled Salix fragilis 'Bullata'. In May 2017 our plants produced female catkins for the first time. It is similar to the fabled 'Bullata' but that has a single trunk usually and is dome shaped, not cloud-like.

This willow thrives along river banks or the edges of lakes, its natural home, but is equally happy on our property with no rivers within miles! It is called Crack Willow because the two-year old branches snap off very easily. Hardy to Zone 4.

USES: A specimen ornamental tree and for coarse basketry.

A female catkin on one of the plants in the nursery for the first time in 2017.

The shape of the spikes convinced me that this was a selection of Salix fragilis. This was verified with the assistance of Prof. Julia Kuzovkina and Alexander Marchenko who examined the number of ovules and placement of the catkins.

May 11th, 2017.


of Michael Dodge