Salix purpurea ‘Vermont Red

purpurea = purple

Purple Willow

A selection found in Plainsfield, Vermont by the State Botanist and sent to the USDA at Big Flats NY for evaluation in 2010. Although the USDA at Big Flats NY rated it very highly they decided not to introduce it. I received cuttings from Prof. Larry Smart of Cornell University three years ago and I am very impressed by this selection because of its fine dark red stems. I contacted the USDA and was given permission to name and offer this for sale. We suspect that this selection, or one of its parents, may have been brought to Vermont by French Canadians who made their home in Vermont when England and France were doing battle over Canada. They brought with them several willows originally from France for basketmaking and these willows escaped into the wild and naturalized. I have found several 'wild' purpurea in our hometown of Fairfield and nearby St. Albans. This selection is shrubby, not tall and slender like some purpureas. With full sun it produces the deepest red colored stems; it produces lots a slender rods. A female selection. Hardy to Zone 3.

USES: A colorful ornamental shrub, especially in winter. Also, dried for fine basket making and other objet d’art.

This is a three-year-old bush in late May that has been coppiced twice to produce lots of fine rods.




Even in late October the leaves are as fresh as they were in mid-summer.

Dark red stems with the fresh blue-green young leaves in mid-May.

By Mid-May these female catkins have been pollenated and the all-green catkin has swollen ovaries.

These female catkins are almost ready for pollenation in late April.

Late October and buds for next Spring's catkins are almsot fully developed.

The undersides of the leaves are glaucous with a waxy covering to reduce transpiration.

left: swollen red catkin buds sparkle in  Autumn sunshine.


of Michael Dodge