Salix lucida  

lucida = shining

Shining Willow

The Shining Willow is native to most of Northeastern America and is hardy to the Arctic Circle! This is one tough plant. Growing to 20ft, it forms a large shrub or small tree with twigs that are a shiny light brown. The handsome leaves grow to 5in long and are shiny, dark green above; paler, but still glossy below. S. lucida is easily identified by its glossy leaves with long tapering tip. Catkins appear with the leaves in late May in our area and the male catkins have showy golden anthers. In the wild it grows in wetland areas but is adaptable to many growing conditions and situations. I have one that grows naturally in my irrigation pond and most of the time it’s roots are submerged in water. Have a very wet spot? Here's the Willow for you. Hardy to Zone 2.

USES: A fine ornamental plant glistens in the sun and the male form is very striking with its abundant yellow catkins.



Distribution of S. lucida in the US

Map used by permission of Dr John Kartesz & BONAP



Present in County

Present in State

Present but rare

Male catkins on a wild specimen near the center of our town of Fairfield VT

growing in a very wet swampy area.

One of the last willows to flower and what a show they put on.

Catkins are produced on short growths with the leaves in late May for us;

unlike Pussy Willows where the flowers appear before the leaves with little or no stem.

The leaves of lucida are simply grand with their glossy upper surface and long, elegant tips.

Stems start green but turn red and then brown.

The one plant of S. lucida that is native to our property and is growing in our irrigation pond! It has chicken wire around it as beavers were too eager to coppice it. If you have a very wet spot, this is the best willow for that location.


Overwintering catkin buds develop in August (left), turn red by the end of September (center) and by late October are fully developed (right). Stipules still present in August, but are shed by late September.

Stems also get darker in color. Notice the tiny glands at the base of the leaf blade.

above and below: This male plant covered in catkins in late May by a stream in our town of Fairfield VT.

Female catkins are produced on short growths with the leaves in late May for us.

At right the catkin is ripe for pollenating and at right after successful pollenating.


of Michael Dodge