Salix petiolaris

petiolaris = exceptional petioles (leaf stems)

Slender or Meadow Willow

A low maintenance, tough as all-get-out native willow that grows from the Northeast, through most of Canada and down to Colorado. It naturally grows in damp meadows, marshes, man-made disturbances, fens, shores of wetlands and by rivers and lakes. Beavers love it and ours are chomped down regularly to a few inches resulting in a mass of excellent rods the following year. Beavers don't eat it for a couple of years after as they need denser wood! It forms dense spreading tidy clumps (no, it's not invasive like S. interior), but is good for erosion control. It grows to a height of 3–9ft and up to twice as wide. Twigs are yellow, green, reddish or brown and the young growth is covered with dense hairs before turning smooth (glabrous). Leaves are lance-shaped; up to 3in long by 3/4in wide; plain green to silver-gray with finely serrated edges and whitened underneath. Catkins are small and appear just after S. discolor struts its stuff and before S. bebbiana. A well-behaved and useful garden plant that requires a little space and very little attention. Hardy in USDA Zones 3–10.

USES: Its smaller stature makes it a good choice for small gardens; useful for fine basketry. Rods are produced in great quantities--especially as the plant matures! Good for very wet areas and erosion control.




Present in County

Present in State

Present but rare

Distribution of Salix petiolaris in the US

Map used by permission of Dr John Kartesz & BONAP


Lovely narrow silver-leaved plants in our lower wet meadow.

Above and below: male catkins in various stages of development. End of April, early May.

Female catkins developing and ready for fertilization in late April.

Beaver trimmed plants in the wetland at the bottom of our property. Lots of useable rods.

Do they like water? What do you think?

above: mid-May and the female flowers have ripened and spreading seeds. Silvery foliage is at its best.

below: leaves turn greener during summer and red stems that turn dark brown later. August.

Slender brown and dark brown rods

with new growth.

Abundant fertilized female catkins.


Part of the beaver swamp at the bottom of our property with blazing maples!

The green bushes toward the bottom of the photo are all S. petiolaris

Late summer and the flower buds are swelling.

Early Autumn and the flower buds turned red.

THis male bush is covered in catkins on May 2nd


of Michael Dodge