Willow (12)

a flower

Willows occur in moist areas from the plains to alpine meadows. They have tiny flowers with no petals in dense spikes called catkins with male and female flowers on separate plants. They range from dwarf shrubs to trees and they are notoriously difficult to distinguish. Here are some that have some more unique characteristics.

At left are two of the most common species in the Gunnison Basin, the Mountain Willow and the Plane-leaved Willow, photographed in the Slate River Valley in the Fall.

See also Arctic Willow and Snow Willow.

Salix brachycarpa

Barrenground Willow
Salix brachycarpa

Family: Willow (Salicaceae)
AKA: Short-fruit Willow, Small-fruit Willow
Photo taken on: July 14, 2007
Location: Scarps Ridge, GV, CO
Life Zones: Subalpine to alpine
Habitat: Moist areas

A shrub growing to 6ft tall in thickets. Leaves are bluish green on top, paler and hairy underneath.

Flora of North America reference.

Salix drummondiana

Drummond's Willow
Salix drummondiana

Family: Willow (Salicaceae)
AKA: Blue Willow
Photo taken on: June 19, 2007
Location: Almont, CO
Life Zones: Foothills to subalpine
Habitat: Moist areas

Grows to 15ft tall. The twigs have a bluish coating. Leaves are long, up to 3", and tapered, green on top, hairy underneath.

willow

Flora of North America reference.

Salix monticola

Mountain Willow
Salix monticola

Family: Willow (Salicaceae)
AKA: Park Willow, Rocky Mountain Willow
Photo taken on: August 28, 2014
Location: Lower Loop, Crested Butte, CO
Life Zones: Foothills to montane
Habitat: Moist areas

Grows to 10ft forming dense thickets with Plane-leaved Willows. It has bright yellow twigs which are easily identified when there are no leaves. Leaves are large and oval-shaped.

Salix monticola

Flora of North America reference.

Salix planifolia

Plane-leaved Willow
Salix planifolia

Family: Willow (Salicaceae)
AKA: Diamond Leaf Willow, Tea Leaf Willow
Photo taken on: July 14, 2007
Location: Scarps Ridge, GV, CO
Life Zones: Foothills to alpine
Habitat: Moist areas

A shrub growing from less than 3ft to 9ft forming dense thickets with shiny, reddish-brown twigs. Leaves are oval-shaped, green on top, gray underneath.

Flora of North America reference.

Salix amygdaloides

Peachleaf Willow
Salix amygdaloides

Family: Willow (Salicaceae)
AKA: Peach-leaved Willow
Photo taken on: June 13, 2008
Location: Almont, CO
Life Zones: Plains to montane
Habitat: Wet areas, stream banks, ditches

A shrub or tree growing from 10-65ft, often near cottonwoods, with a single trunk, many branches and drooping, yellowish twigs. Leaves are long, from 2" to 6", and narrow; shiny green on top, pale underneath, with finely serrated edges. Female catkins are up to 3" long, males less than 2" (photo at left), both are erect.

Flora of North America reference.

Salix exigua

Coyote Willow
Salix exigua

Family: Willow (Salicaceae)
AKA: Sandbar Willow, Narrowleaf Willow
Photo taken on: June 4, 2013
Location: Abiquiu, NM
Life Zones: Plains and foothills
Habitat: Moist areas, ditches, stream banks

Grows to 8ft tall in thickets with yellow, red and tannish stems. The leaves are long, up to 5", very narrow and hairy. The male flowers point up, the females droop down.

Salix exigua

Flora of North America reference.

Salix scouleriana

Scouler's Willow
Salix scouleriana

Family: Willow (Salicaceae)
AKA:
Photo taken on: July 3, 2014
Location: Almont, CO
Life Zones: Foothills to subalpine
Habitat: Dry to moist thickets, open forests, moist areas

A shrub or tree growing from 6-30ft tall with drooping branches and yellowish or reddish twigs. Leaves are dark green and shiny on top, pale underneath with smooth edges. Leaves are narrowly oval with a yellow mid-vein and are usually widest nearer the tip. Male catkins are 1" long, female 2" or more.

Flora of North America reference.

Salix babylonica

Weeping Willow
Salix babylonica

Family: Willow (Salicaceae)
AKA: Babylon Willow
Photo taken on: July 28, 2014
Location: Rio Chama, Abiquiu, NM
Life Zones: Plains and foothills
Habitat: Moist areas

A tree growing 30-50ft tall with long drooping branches. The trunk is furrowed and gray. Leaves are narrow, lance-shaped, light green above and silvery green underneath with finely serrated edges. Introduced from China centuries ago.

Salix babylonica

Flora of North America reference.

Salix laevigata

Red Willow
Salix laevigata (Salix bonplandiana var. laevigata)

Family: Willow (Salicaceae)
AKA: Polished Willow
Photo taken on: September 6, 2014
Location: Abiquiu, NM
Life Zones: Plains and foothills
Habitat: Streamsides, springs, ditches

A shrub or a tree growing to 45ft tall. Young twigs are red. Leaves are lance-shaped with finely serrated edges and are from 2" to over 6" long. The upper surface is green, underneath is pale. Where some leaves are attached to the stem there are a pair of small leaves called stipules.

Flora of North America reference.

Salix gooddingii

Goodding's Black Willow
Salix gooddingii

Family: Willow (Salicaceae)
AKA:
Photo taken on: June 15, 2015
Location: Abiquiu Lake, NM
Life Zones: Plains and foothills
Habitat: River banks, moist areas

Grows from 9 to 90 feet tall with thick, furrowed, shreddy bark and many thin branches. The leaves are up to 5" long, green on both sides, lance-shaped, and finely serrated along the edges.

Flora of North America reference.

Salix lasiandra var. caudata

Greenleaf Willow
Salix lasiandra var. caudata

Family: Willow (Salicaceae)
AKA: Tail-leaf Willow, Whiplash Willow, Pacific Willow
Photo taken on: July 17, 2015
Location: Almont, CO
Life Zones: Plains, foothills and montane
Habitat: Riparian thickets, moist areas

Grows to tree height, up to 40ft, as a shrub. It commonly associates with other willows, alders and cottonwoods. Leaves are up 1" to 8" long with a shiny upper surface and green lower surface. Leaves have finely serrated edges and are lance-shaped with a long pointed tip.

Flora of North America reference.

Salix bebbiana

Bebb's Willow
Salix bebbiana

Family: Willow (Salicaceae)
AKA: Gray Willow, Long-beaked Willow
Photo taken on: June 22, 2016
Location: Santa Barbara Canyon, Carson NF, NM
Life Zones: Plains, foothills and montane
Habitat: Moist conifer forests, stream sides

Grows as a large multi-stemmed shrub or small tree to 18 feet tall forming dense colonies. Leaves are oval shaped and have mostly smooth edges, are green above and gray beneath.

Flora of North America reference.

Yellow Long Clusters | Trees