Salix purpurea 'Lambertiana'

purpurea = purple

Purple Willow

The first cuttings we received as 'Lambertiana' were not true to name and looking at the photos of all the other North American growers that offer this cultivar no-one has the true selection. However, in 2017 I obtained cuttings labelled Salix purpurea AA 1045-79-D from the amazing woody plant collection of the Arnold Arboretum in Greater Boston. In 2017 we found out that the Arboretum had received this plant as Salix purpurea ssp lambertiana, but had chosen not to list it as that selection. After reading European Public Garden and nursery descriptions of 'Lambertiana', I realized that this AA selection is identical to what is grown in Europe. In the description below the text in red gives the defining features of this selection, also see the photos at right:

This selection has been around since at least 1804 and below is how it it described in the Checklist for Cultivars of Salix by Dr. Julia Kuzovkina:

     This epithet most likely corresponds to S. purpurea f. lambertiana (Sm.) Wimm. (1866);

     syn. S. lambertiana Smith (1804), S. woolgariana Borrer ex Hooker (1830),  S. purpurea var. lambertiana

      (Sm.) D. Koch (1837), S. purpurea var. latifolia Kerner (1860), S. purpurea ssp. lambertiana A. Neumann     

     ex Rechinger f. ). A cultivar with stout purple stems and broad obovate-oblong leaves (Rehder,

      1927). Leaves are serrate for almost entire length (Bailey & Bailey, 1976). According to Stott (2001),    

     a basket cultivar with green stem.

So what is special about this male cultivar, apart from botanical differences? It is very robust and is the most pest resistant selection of all purpureas we have grown (25). It produces a large spreading shrub unless it is coppiced; this can be done every 1-3 years to limit its growth and to produce lots of long rods for structures and sculptures.

Dried rod color: grey-green     

USES: a fine large woody plant that makes a dense screen, rods for living structures, dried for sculptures and basketry. It alo makes an impressive large shrub in the garden.

sorry not



At left is a European internet photo of 'Lambertiana' and at right one of ours.

These leaves are the broadest leaves of any Salix purpurea selection.

The shape of the leaf is described as broad ovate-oblong, means the leaves are wider in the top half.

Also the leaves are serrate, meaning the edges of the leaf are somewhat saw-toothed.

Unfortunately there are imposter plants that do not have these features that are offered by other growers.

This is an unpruned plant of 'Lambertiana' with three years of growth in late August.

This cultivar is the most disease resistant of all the purpurea cultivars we grow.

Male catkins just opening (left) with dark red anthers (right) that are starting to show their yellow pollen.  Late April.

Overwintering catkin buds late August at left and late October at right.

The undersides of the leaves (abaxial botanically, adaxial = upper side) are blue-gray with a waxy glaucous coating. Shown in late October.

In late October the bases of the stems are pale gray when they have been in shade.

A typical shoot with the broad leaves of 'Lambertiana' in late August.

Male catkins, a perfect place for bees to land and gather pollen. Late April.


of Michael Dodge