Salix x smithiana

(caprea x viminalis)

smithiana = after James Edward Smith

English Botanist/founder of the Linnaean Society

Smith’s Willow

This male hybrid is found widely in Europe where the two species grow together and inherits the best of both species! I first spied this hybrid at the Montreal Botanical Garden. ‘Twas an old tree, fallen on its side but with many erect young stems covered with pubescence and a myriad of silver-gray catkins. Even in its decline it was a very impressive sight! It’s a vigorous grower in the nursery and flowers prolifically in late winter even after coppicing the previous March. Will grow to a 30ft tree if left unpruned, but we recommend coppicing frequently to keep the flower shoots reachable. Often found "wild" in the Canadian Maritimes from the time where they were brought over for basketry; we saw some in Nova Scotia! It is sometimes confused with S. xholosericea which is a cross between Salix cinerea and Salix viminalis and is found in similar locations.  Hardy to USDA Zone 4.

USES: large, free flowering tree; cut stems; ornamental tree; coarse basketry and living structures.

Smithiana produces masses of silver-gray catkins in late March.

and makes great cut stems. Much showier than S. viminalis.

The male catkins turn yellow as they mature when the pollen develops.

Clean green foliage and pubescent stems



Smithiana gets its vigour from S. viminalis, but doesn't have its lesser qualities (like its appeal to bugs!).

A vigorous grove of Smith's Willow on Brier Island, Nova Scotia. Taken to the New World for basket-making.

This is foliage growing from the broken tree in the Montreal Botanic Garden

Stems are green at first and then turn tan/brown with maturity

In September the flower buds have developed in the axils of the leaves.

below: By late October the leaves and stipules have fallen off and the buds have turned redder.

Foliage on a Brier Island plant.

Foliage in the nursery.

Leaves are shiny on the upper surface and veins are reticulate (netted).

Leaves have dense short whitish hairs on the under surface.


of Michael Dodge