Salix x ‘Licorice Whip’
(caprea x purpurea?)
Licorice Whip Willow
This hybrid was discovered by Steve Hottovy in his nursery Beyond Green LLC. It was several rows from a block of Salix caprea and S. purpurea so it’s possible that these two were playing around without Steve knowing it (willows are notorious philanderers!). Steve grew it on and although it grew like caprea, it has purple-black stems in winter. The male catkins appear in mid-March and start silver, turn a dark reddish brown, then red and explode into a riot of yellow and red! Wow! They seem to last forever on the stems whether on the plant or as cut stems. I first saw it at the Montreal Botanic Garden and knew right away I had to purchase a plant! My original plant is now 6 years-old and I coppice it annually; it forms long straight rods about 6ft tall. We are having trouble rooting this hybrid after being easy to root for several years. Hardy to Zone 4 at least.
USES: Great for late-winter bouquets. The long thin rods can also be used for basket making and small living structures. It’s also a worthy addition to the garden.
The catkins look a lot like those of S. caprea, but are longer.
Our original plant showing its upright habit and dark stems. A handsome compact growing shrub.
`Licorice Whip’, like one of its parent S. caprea, produces lots of
showy catkins in March that last through April.
The foliage also looks more like its S. caprea parent.
Brown stems and prominent flower buds characterize ‘Licorice Whip’ in autumn.
This plant at the Montreal Botanic Garden is what turned me on to this great plant. Those stems are at least 12ft tall and smothered in catkins!
of Michael Dodge