glabra = smooth, hairless
This is a relatively dwarf, compact shrub, growing 3-5ft tall and about the same in width. It originates in the Eastern Europe Alps. As the name implies it has smooth, hairless leaves that are green on both surfaces, paler beneath; 2–2.5in long and half as wide. Ours is a male selection and buds start opening in early May and are in peak bloom by the middle of the month. The abundant catkins are produced on a short leafy stems with hairs on the edges of the leaves that soon fall off. The catkins are silvery pink at first, gradually deepening in color as the red anthers show through the hairs. The anthers become an orange red as they mature and turn yellow with pollen in full flower! They fade into a straw color as the pollen is lost and have little maroon tips on the filaments. Quite a show if you watch frequently enough.
USES: ornamental shrub for small gardens or large rock gardens. Should be near a path so the flower show can be observed. Honey-bees love this gem when it's covered in flowers!
Below are shots of the male catkins in various stages of development early to mid-May.
The Wonderful World of Willows
Vermont Willow Nursery
This is a mature plant of the Smooth Willow growing in the Willow Collection of the Montreal Botanic Garden.
This about as large as it gets, 5 x 5 ft at most! Late June.
At left is foliage shown in early vigorous growth,
here shown in the nursery. Early May.
Above below were shots in the MBG in late June. Below are spent male flowers.
Here is the Smooth Willow at its absolute peak of beauty with tight pinkish gray catkins, anthers turning reddish-orange and fully open at top. Mid May.
Here for scale, are the upper and lower surfaces of the leaves shown on 1/4in graph paper.
Large catkin buds appear in late October.
In winter the browny-green stems with large catkin buds displayed. These plants will have to be moved as they're in too much shade! Always work to do in the nursery! We often get volunteers to work in the nursery in exchange for cuttings or rods for basketry! If you're in the area, are fit and able, let us know! Nursery work is generally tough though!
of Michael Dodge