Salix purpurea 'Holland'

purpurea = purple

Purple Willow

Another selection that is new to us, so we know little about it except that it is a vigorous clone and was developed in—where else: Holland! We obtained this male selection from Larry Smart at Cornell University who obtained cuttings from New Zealand—so this is a well-travelled willow. It is used in NZ for erosion control. At first NZ used willows that were invasive by seed and stem fragmentation. So in a determined effort, they removed all those willows and started testing Salix purpurea clones that are not invasive—unless you plant the boys and girls together! Even then, they are nowhere near as invasive as some other willows!

It has growth typical of purpurea selections, leaves opposite or alternate, blue-green in color, 2-3in long and 0.5in wide. Catkins are male and burst out of red bud scales in early spring, before the leaves develop; they are furry, silver, then pinkish and finally green when the anthers explode from their furry nest! The anthers turn orange and finally yellow  when pollen is released. Stems are reddish at first, turn red and olive-green in the first winter; second year wood is gray!

USES: stream and river bank erosion; plus fine basketry, deer-resistant hedges, fedges.

Typical purpurea growth on these stems. Second year stems like these are more twiggy

so it's better to coppice yearly for basketry. We let these grow to get flowers and we did!

Overwintering flower buds are bright red, an ornamental plus and small pussy willows soon expand to 2in long. Mid-April.

Male catkin doing its thing, anthers start red then turn yellow when the pollen appears.

Nice how they provide such a convenient landing place for bees!


of Michael Dodge