Salix koriyanagi  

kori = basket      yanagi = willow

Basketry Willow, Korean Willow, or Purple Pussy Willow

This species is native to Korea and is widely seen in Japanese and Chinese gardens, also in fine basket making. Similar in size and shape to Salix purpurea, but has green leaves in pairs or in a whorl of three, whereas pupureas have blue-gray leaves in opposite pairs.

It was originally named S. purpurea 'Japonica' and then S. purpurea 'Howkii', but is not Japanese and S. purpurea is a European species. 'Howkii' came from a mistranslation of kori-yanagi to howkii-yanagi by a Japanese nurseryman (yanagi is willow in Japanese). Unfortunately some nurserymen still list this with the old name. Normally it grows up to 12ft tall and about half as wide. Like many willows it’s best to coppice this variety every year. In the wild the species grows in sandy/gravelly soil, but it is equally happy in our heavy clay-loam. We also bought cuttings of this from a nursery in Oregon labelled S. gilgiana and it turned out to be a male selection of S. koriyanagi and this is what we are offering now! Many Public Gardens also had this labelled as Salix gilgiana. Without a doubt, this willow has the best foliage of any willow in our collection--green from Spring into late Autumn. This is the last willow to lose its leaves in Autumn. Hardy to Zone 4 (3?)

Dried rod color: light green

USES: Great for late-winter bouquets. The long thin rods can also be used for fine basket making and elegant living structures. Rabbits like to nibble on young shoots.



Our plants were given to us as S. purpurea 'Howkii' but it was soon obvious that it was very similar to the

S. koriyanagi 'Rubykins' we had in the nursery. So I did some research and discovered the error in its name.

These are our plants in the nursery and their long slender rods made me wish I had the skills of a basketmaker!

Below are young shoots of the Korean Willow with their pale green leaves in pairs or threes.

This species has the freshest looking, most bug-free foliage of any willow; from early Summer to mid November.

It would not be easy to fit more flowers along these stems!

These make superb cut flowers with long elegant stems.

The densely produced male catkins of S. koriyanagi along the stems

in early March in Northern Vermont. Below: Shown in different stages of development!

Above and left: A mature specimen in the Montreal Botanical gardens in full summer foliage. Late June.

below: one of the best time to enjoy willows is when they’re blowin’ in the wind.

Profuse male flower spikes of Salix koriyanagi in early March in Northern Vermont.

Clean, pest free leaves in late August (left) and early November, fresh, even after several frosts.

Leaves are often in threes, easily separating it from Salix purpurea. Each leaf has a flower bud at its base.

This is where we first met Salix koriyanagi, in Savill Gardens, Windsor Great Park, UK and it was mislabelled Salix Howkii. I suggested they change the label and they agreed!

As you can see by the trunk this was a very large tree! It looked like S. koriyanagi 'Rubykins' to me. So I located a plant labelled S. purpurea 'Howkii' and sure enough it was what I thought: S. koriyanagi.  Apparently this plant has been moved! I wonder if it survived the move? I hope so, it was the largest plant of this species I have ever seen!

Korean Willow in the nursery in mid-April ready to be coppiced for cuttings and rods for living structures. These plants are 5 years old each from a single cutting.

There are 20 useable rods 6-8ft tall on the plant at right!

Molde Botanic Garden, Norway June 2017. This fedge was made with Salix koriyanagi and as can be seen at right they used double rods for extra strength as this is in a windy location near the ocean.

On the label describing this structure they called it a Belgian Fence and they hope as it filled out it will create a wind-break for the gardens below.

Part of the fedge featured above. This is such a great willow with elegant foliage and long straight rods. I have never seen a pest or disease on this species.

I photographed these male catkins on plants that are labelled Salix koriyanagi in the nursery, but these are strikingly different from our other male plants of this species.

We will have to follow up with this one, it's so cute!


of Michael Dodge