Salix pierotii

East Asian White Willow

(synonyms: S. jessoensis, S. koreensis?)

Salix pierotii was described by Friedrich Anton Wilhelm Miquel and named after Jacques Pierot, an early 19th century French Botanist who sadly died at the age of 29! This native to China, Russia, Japan and Korea can reach heights of 20–50ft; with bark dark grayish yellow or grayish brown. I received my cuttings through the generosity of the Arnold Arboretum and the Morton Arboretum (as S. jessoensis). I don't agree with taxonomists that say this is Salix koreensis as I have both species and they are very different.

It is easy to recognize this tree in leaf, as it has a very distinctive growth pattern and can't be mistaken for any other species that I'm aware of. The upright-branched tree has a shape reminiscent of Zelkova, that is related to and similar to the English Elm. Pierotii has dark grayish yellow or grayish brown, flaky bark. Branchlets brown, grayish green, or grayish yellow; downy when young, hairless at maturity. Flower buds reddish brown, oval shaped, pubescent when young, apex acute. Stipules lance-shaped, small; petiole 2-5 mm, downy; leaf blade lanceolate or lanceolate-oblong, 3-5in long by 1–1.5in wide broadest below middle, glaucous underneath, upper surface green; hairless, downy along veins or glabrous, densely downy when young, margins shallow toothed, tips long acuminate. Our plants flowered for the first time in 2018 with male catkins 1in × 1/4in, stemless, leaflets at base; anthers reddish purple. Female catkin ellipsoid-oblong, 1/2in × 1/4in. Flowers in April and May. It must have a sunny situation in not too moist soil and prefers a sandy-loamy, gritty-loamy or sandy clay soil. However, mine thrive in wet, clay-based loam.

USES: as an ornamental tree; screen, windbreak. Too twiggy for basketry.

A fine example of Pierot's willow in the Morton Arboretum in Chicago. Mid-May

At right is the trunk of the same tree.

Branches against a late September sky have a more grayish appearance than in early summer.

Past their peak male flowers by mid-May; photographed in the Morton Arboretum.

Vigorous new fan-shaped shoots in the nursery in mid-June, a lovely fresh green

Young growth in the nursery, tinged pink-red like so many willows! Late August.

Young growth still showing the hairy foliage on the upper surface of the leaves. Late August.

The glaucous (waxy coating) of the undersides of the leaves.

Top of an 8ft shoot against a September sky.

The bark of a young stem is a slightly brown shade of green and hairless by late August.

Young red flower buds at the base of the leaves. Lance-shaped stipules on the sides of the base of the leaf petioles. Buds, petioles, stems and leaves are down-covered at this stage.

Late September.

Male catkins on our cuttings from the Arnold Arboretum (with a permit) in mid-May.

For a taxonomist, this above photo tells quite a story: details of the twig, the bud scale (brown), the length of the catkin stalk, the leaflets below the naughty bits, and the hairiness of various parts.

Typical coetaneous catkins flowering on a short stalk. Below a fly enjoying a treat.

coetaneous = flowering with or after the leaves appear (ie. not pussy willows)


of Michael Dodge