for Spring 2017
Salix x leucopithecia 'Winter Glory'
(gracilistyla x caprea)
In the trade as Salix chaenomeloides
Giant Pussy Willow
This beautiful and vigorous male hybrid was found in the wild in Japan and is a cross between two native species S. gracilistyla and S. caprea, which they call S. bakko! Botanically this is xleucopithecia as a cross between these species--horrible name for such a beautiful plant!). We also offer another cross between these two parents and this one was created in the Netherlands--see Salix xleucopithecia 'The Hague'; this is a female selection.
The Giant Pussy Willow forms a small tree from 15-20ft with large green leaves that are silky underneath. It has some of the largest catkins in the genus and are much-prized as cut flowers. In Autumn they develop scarlet-red flower buds in the axils of the leaves and in sun start opening in October in Northern Vermont without damage over winter! They start to open fully in mild days in early February. They are soft, silky and pinkish-silver at first and grow to 3in long; this is a male form with catkins that turn golden with pollen. A non-fussy small tree that will grow anywhere in full sun with sandy, average or moist soil. Appears to be deer-proof also. Hardy to Zone 4.
USES: a handsome, free flowering, ornamental shrub, prune regularly to keep a steady supply of young shoots that provide the most catkins. If coppiced the new stems can be used for living structures as well as cut flowers. As with most pussy willows after coppicing they produce lots of catkins in the first year. Probably the best all-purpose willow we offer.
Here is a link to photos of the true S. chaenomeloides
Giant Pussy Willow: one of the most beautiful willows in cultivation and versatile to boot. Cut stems in early February. Once the catkins are fully developed, remove the water and they will last indefinitely!
Catkins bursting out of their red-brown buds in mid February.
A welcome sight when it's 25°F below zero!
Male catkins starting to produce pollen in early March proving early rising bees a delicious treat!
A fully ripe catkin ready to do its male thing with the help of bees!
Young leaves are a delicious shade of red and gradually turn green from the tips down.
Mature leaves are 4–5in long and up to 3in wide. Stems are reddish on the upper side where the sun its them.
The undersides leaves are covered in fine hairs (indumentum) and flash when the wind flips them over. Stems are green due to a lack of sunshine.
An abundance of large pussies willows are produced yearly to provide abundant stems for cutting.
Photographed in the Chicago Botanical Garden.
A young tree in our Winter Garden showing the typical vase-shaped habit. Placed to show off its catkins against a dark Spruce tree--take note of the number of flowers on the most vigorous stems!
Red-stem dogwoods left and right.
This is the same tree as the above photo, but in its summer plumage!
Snow-covered catkins April 7, 2015
In September the flower buds are well developed.
By late October buds will turn red, if the sun strikes them directly.
Quite often in late October the buds will split and allow some of the pussy willows to escape partially if grown in full sun!
This is an Autumnal leaf bud and will develop into a new shoot next spring!
of Michael Dodge