Types of Willow Trees: Weeping ,Shrubs, Dwarf and More

From big weeping willows to tiny willows and low-growing spreading shrubs, willows cover a broad range of plants. Wettish, boggy soil is ideal for all types of willows, while dry soil is ideal for some willow species. In temperate and cold climates, willow trees and shrubs flourish. Weeping willows are popular landscape garden trees because of their graceful shape and elegance.

The genus Salix contains the willows, which are a kind of deciduous plant. Other names for willows include: depending on the species:

  • Tree willows. Lanceolate leaves on trees or large shrubs.
  • Osier willows. The osier is a small slender willow shrub with tiny leaves that is often known as basket willows.
  • Sallows. Little trees or low shrubs with broad oval leaves make up these willows.

In several nations throughout the Northern Hemisphere, there are over 400 species of willow.

Table of Contents

How to Identify Willow Trees and Shrubs

Tree willows Lanceolate leaves (lance-shaped leaves) with light feather veins may be used to identify them. Serrated leaf margins. Willow trees are frequently the first trees to sprout leaves in the spring, therefore another way to distinguish them in deciduous woods, parks, and green areas is by looking for them.

Osier willows The long thin leaves of (basket willows) are a distinguishing feature. Tall, narrow willows are these willows.

Sallows (shrub willows) The broad oval leaves, with serrated margins, can help you identify them. You’ll learn about a variety of willow trees in this article. Different species of willows may be identified with the help of photographs of willow trees, descriptions of their traits, and scientific names.

Interesting Facts About Weeping Willow Trees

With aggressive roots that seek out moisture, weeping willow trees grow quickly. Willow planting near underground lines such as water, gas, or electricity is not recommended. The Dwarf Willow, for example, only grows to be 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall. The Weeping Willow, on the other hand, may reach a height of up to 82 feet (25 m).

Salix is the Latin name for the willow family. A chemical compound found in willow plants called salicylic acid is also named after this scientific name. Aspirin is a pain reliever that is derived from this substance.

Willow wood is both sturdy and malleable, which is another fascinating property. Furniture, musical instruments, sports bats, and toys are all made of wood from willow trees. Willow rods may also be utilized to make wicker baskets that are woven.

Weeping Willow Trees

weeping willows, which thrive near rivers and lakes, have lengthy drooping branches that distinguish them. The tree has a gloomy yet elegant and graceful look due to its long cascading branches. Between 66 and 82 feet (20 and 25 meters) tall, weeping willow trees They have such long leafy arching branches that they nearly touch the ground.

There are a lot of ways to tell if you’re looking at weeping willow leaves. The leaves of weeping willow are thin and light green with a silvery sheen that range from 1.5 to 6 inches (4 to 15 cm) long and 0.8 to 2 inches (2 to 5 cm) wide. The serrated edges of the weeping willow are narrow. The weeping willow trees in the fall go from a bright golden yellow to a rich golden yellow.

Flowering trees include weeping willows. Early spring brings out the fuzzy flower spikes, known as catkins. In settings beside streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds, weeping willows thrive exceedingly well and help to steady the earth. weeping willows may be found growing from zone 4 through zone 9.

Dwarf Weeping Willow Trees

For tiny-scale landscapes, dwarf weeping willow trees are lovely decorative trees. Pendulous branches make up the umbrella-like canopy of the short-stature appealing willows. Small, lovely trees are perfect for tiny gardens or huge pots. The fact that dwarf willow trees never grow too tall is one of their charms.

Dwarf willow plants grow to be between 3 and 6 feet (1.5 and 2 meters) tall when fully grown. The dwarf cultivars have narrow, pointed leaves and produce yellow furry catkins (catkins) in the spring, similar to larger weeping willows.

Willow Leaves

Willow leaves are generally long and thin, including weeping willows, dwarf varieties, and willow shrubs. Lanceolate-shaped pointed green leaves with finely serrated edges. Knowing which variety of willow the leaf belongs to is also helps to identify it. The rounded, oval leaves of the goat willow (Salix caprea) have a short, pointed tip.

Willow shrubs with extremely small green leaves, some with long, tapering ends, include goat willow (Salix caprea). The Willow tree’s thin willow branches may grow up to 10 inches (25 cm) long. Green willow leaves with a silver-gray underside may be seen on some osier willows, such as the common osier (Salix viminalis).

Salix viminalis leaves are commonly found and have serrated edges and a bent, pointed tip.

Most willows have leaves that are one of the first to develop in late winter or early spring, which is a distinguishing characteristic. Also, willows are one of the last trees to lose their leaves in the autumn, as they turn bright yellow.

Willow Tree Bark

Willow tree bark is gray, rough, and fissured in general. Itching willow bark (left) and goat willow bark (right) Ridges on the bark of various willow trees create vertical crisscrossing patterns, which is a distinguishing characteristic. The bark of a mature willow tree becomes shaggy and flakes away. Willow bark matures in a dark gray to black color as well.

The crimson winter hue of the bark on numerous willow bushes and tiny willow trees is an appealing characteristic. Flame Willow (Salix alba ‘flame’) and Scarlet Willow (Salix alba var. rubra) are examples of multi-stemmed willow shrubs. The orange-red or brilliant orange bark of vitellina is termed “Britzensis.”

Salix alba ‘Flame’ bark

Willow Flowers

Willows produce woolly buds on red or gray stems that resemble long white or yellow catkins. Longer, thin fuzzy flowers (catkins) made of weeping willows are generally yellow in color. The woolly catkins of most varieties of willows and sallows, such as the American pussy willow, gray willow, and other minor willow species, appear in early spring.

The strange flowers lack petals, smell, and are visually unpleasant. Because willow blossoms look like tiny, fuzzy cats, they are also known as pussy willows.

Willow Tree Identification

The leaf form, sort of blossom, and growth habit of willow trees may be used to identify them. Long, linear, pointed lance-shaped leaves are common on willows trees. Silvery-white to gray leaves are found on some willow species, while serrated edges are found on others. In the spring, Willow bushes and trees with hairy flowers are simple to identify.

In a landscape, weeping willow trees are some of the most straightforward to identify. The massive, majestic trees have long, thin green leaves on their arching, drooping branches. A light yellow or greenish-yellow color may be seen on weeping willow twigs and branches.

Types of Weeping Willow Trees with Pictures for Easy Identification

Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica)

The weeping willow (Salix babylonica) has weak lanceolate leaves that taper to a sharp tip, making it easy to spot. The tree’s weeping appearance is due to its pendulous branches. A yellowish-brown color characterizes leaf stems. This graceful weeping willow may grow to be between 62 and 82 feet (20 and 25 meters) tall. It has a fast development rate.

The most prevalent and readily recognized sort of weeping willow is the Babylon willow. Even though there are various weeping willow types, it is often referred to as weeping willow. The common weeping willow is native to China, despite its scientific name suggesting it comes from the Middle East.

In the winter, weeping willows have a lovely hue. Drooping yellow branches make this tree interesting to look at after it has shed its golden-yellow leaves in the fall. In the spring, the weeping willow tree has long fuzzy spikes of beautiful yellow flowers.

Weeping willow inflorescence (flower)

Weeping willow tree leaves

The Babylon weeping willow has pointed linear leaves that may grow to be 6 inches (15 cm) long and 1 inch (2 cm) broad. In the fall, the leaves acquire a golden yellow color.

Weeping willow bark

Weeping Golden Willow (Salix × sepulcralis ‘Chrysocoma’)

The weeping golden willow tree has lovely arching drooping branches that dangle straight down and have a light olive-green color. It is a hardy kind of willow tree. This weeping willow grows to be around 72 feet (22 meters) tall. In the spring, on golden young yellow twigs, the weeping tree produces yellow fuzzy flowers (catkins).

The lanceolate young yellow-green leaves that sprout on cascading branches give the weeping golden willow its name. These leaves acquire a glossy green color as the season progresses.

A cross between the Salix babylonica and Salix alba, the weeping golden willow is a hybrid. The golden weeping willow thrives in wet, soggy soil and grows well in USDA zones 5 to 9, as do other weeping willow varieties.

Weeping willow tree leaves

The long, slender tapered green willow leaves with a glossy sheen of weeping golden willow leaves are distinctive.

Weeping golden willow bark

White Weeping Willow (Salix alba ‘Tristis’)

The weeping willow tree has a strong trunk and drooping branches, and is a popular cultivar known as ‘Tristis.’ Woolly flowers bloom in the spring and are 2” (5 cm) long, and the willow tree has pale green leaves. In USDA zones 4 to 8, white weeping willows grow to be 50 to 70 feet (15 – 21 meters) tall.

The golden weeping willow tree, often called the golden weeping willow ‘Chrysocoma,’ is also a kind of white willow. When comparing photographs of both willow species, you’ll see that the Salix alba ‘Tristis’ has a thicker trunk. The white weeping willow has thin yellow cascading stems and is commonly seen growing alongside rivers, streams, and ponds.

They hang down so much that they’re practically on the ground. Its leaves are narrow lance-shaped and change from bright green to dark green, then golden yellow as they mature.

The lovely yellow branches left hanging after the leaves fall are what give the weeping willow its characteristic form. One of the nicest forms of weeping willows to cultivate in gardens, according to many botanists, is the lovely white willow.

Weeping willow tree leaves

Thin, lanceolate leaves with finely serrated margins characterize the white weeping willow. The silvery-white underside of the gray-green weeping willow leaves is 4″ (10 cm) long.

Wisconsin Weeping Willow (Salix x blanda and Salix x pendulina)

With drooping branches covered in long, narrowly lanceolate leaves, the Wisconsin weeping willow is a tiny variety of willow tree. The weeping appearance is provided by the yellowish-brown branches that cascade from the willow trees. In the spring, tiny fuzzy flowers emerge. Wisconsin willow grows to a height of between 20 and 40 feet (6 and 12 meters).

The weeping willow’s shorter height, broad spreading crown, and loosely pendulous branches distinguish it from other willows. Weeping willows are not advised as landscape trees for backyards because of the aggressive growing nature of the roots. The willows are also “messy” trees because of their weak stems, which make it easy for them to lose their branches.

Weeping willow tree leaves

Wisconsin’s weeping willow leaves are serrated on the edges and long and tapering. The leaves of the weeping willow can grow up to 6 inches (15 cm) long. The yellowish-brown branches contrast with the thin lanceolate green leaves.

Dwarf Weeping Willow Trees (With Pictures)

You can choose dwarf weeping willows if you have a small area in your yard and appreciate the droopy appearance of weeping willows.

Dwarf Weeping Willow (Salix integra ‘Pendula Waterfall’)

For a yard with limited area, the dwarf weeping willow is an ideal tiny weeping tree. The reddish-brown branches that dangle down in a weeping growth habit contrast with the attractive long leaves. In 20 years, this little weeping willow grows up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall.

Patios, balconies, and small gardens will love this Salix integra ‘Pendula Waterfall.’ Container-grown willow is also lovely. In USDA zones 5 to 7, the dwarf weeping willow thrives in partial sun. Because of its mound-forming, weeping growth habit, this dwarf tree is also known as the Waterfall Willow.

Dwarf weeping willow tree leaves

The oblong green leaves of the dwarf weeping willow known as the ‘Pendula Waterfall’ are somewhat twisted and grow on drooping branches in alternate pairs.

Dwarf Weeping Willow ‘Kilmarnock’ (Salix caprea ‘Kilmarnock’)

The little weeping willow tree ‘Kilmarnock’ (Salix caprea) has arching branches that cascade to the ground and is a low-growing deciduous willow tree. Dark-green leaves with silvery-gray undersides adorn this pretty dwarf weeping tree. On bare branches in the spring, gorgeous gray fuzzy flowers turn yellow on red. Between 4 and 8 feet (1.2 and 2.4 meters) tall and 5 feet (1.5 meters) broad, the weeping willow known as the Kilmarnock dwarf.

The umbrella has a unique appearance. The Kilmarnock willow, being one of the most delightful dwarf weeping willows, is ideal for tiny gardens with limited space. This weeping species may also be cultivated in a huge pot as a patio tree.

To grow it in full sun or partly shady areas, keep the dwarf weeping willow ‘Kilmarnock’ leaves and flowers clean. Throughout the winter, gently trim the dwarf willow tree every three to five years to encourage new development. In particularly hot climates, it is recommended to water it once a week or more often.

Dwarf weeping willow tree leaves

The ovate to lanceolate leaves of the tiny weeping willow, sometimes known as Kilmarnock, have finely serrated margins.

Types of Willow Trees with Pictures for Easy Identification

Willow weeping growth is not seen in all varieties. Willow species that are trees or shrubs with branches that don’t droop or cascade will be discussed in depth below.

Pussy Willow / Goat Willow (Salix caprea and Salix discolor)

Goat willows are little flowered willow trees that are also categorized as a kind of sallow. They have smaller leaves than most other willows. Pussy and goat willows grow in damp environments, like other willows in the Willow family. They may reach heights of up to 33 feet (10 meters).

Little willow species are called pussy willows because of the hairy catkins. When the little flowers bloom, these fuzzy “buds” turn yellow. They start as gray-white. Their resemblance to tiny cats earned them the name. Early spring is when these catkins appear, and they usually precede the foliage.

In Europe, the Salix caprea and in North America, the Salix discolor are the most common species of pussy willow buds and flowers. Pussy willow or goat willow are two common names for these related species.

Willow tree leaves

Pussy willow tree leaves have an oval form and a twisted tip and are elliptic in shape. Serrated edges and up to 4″ (10 cm) long gray-green, glossy willow leaves characterize this species.

Scouler’s willow (Salix scouleriana)

Scouler’s willow is a kind of willow that lives in cold, dry settings and has a shrubby appearance. Scouler’s willow has a multitude of straight stems that may grow to 6.5 feet (2 meters) or longer. Stems may grow to be rather tall under certain circumstances. Scouler’s willow has lanceolate leaves with a pointed base on its stems, which are dark brown.

The wavy-toothed edges of these green leaves may grow to be 2″ to 4.7″ (5 – 12.5 cm) long and are recognized by their length. Other names for Scouler’s willow include western pussy willow, fire willow, and black willow because of its pussy willow-like catkins.

Willow tree leaves

Spoon-shaped green leaves with a wide, tapered ending that tapers at the stem, Scouler’s willow (Salix scouleriana) tree leaves are a sight to see. Between 2″ and 5″ (5 and 12 cm) long, the dark-green willow leaves. The smooth green upper surface and fuzzy, whitish-green underside of these willow leaves is a characteristic.

Hooker’s Willow (Salix hookeriana)

Hooker’s willow is a bushy shrub or small tree that grows up to 26 feet (8 meters) tall and 10 feet (3 meters) broad in coastal regions. Oval leaves, thick foliage, and fuzzy spring blooms distinguish this bushy willow species. This pussy willow variety can grow in coastal areas and thrives in USDA zones 6 to 10.

It is also known as the dune willow or coastal willow because it grows near coasts. On the west coast of North America and in floodplains, marshes, and canyons, you may often find Hooker’s willow growing.

Willow leaves

Hooker’s willow leaves have an glossy green upper side and resemble ovate-shaped leaves. The willow leaf blades are up to 4″ (11 cm) long and have wavy edges with finely serrated margins.

Peachleaf Willow (Salix amygdaloides)

The peachleaf willow tree can grow up to 66 feet (20 meters) tall and flourishes in the grasslands of North America. The bushy, green leaves of the tall willow tree are lanceolate and olive-green in color. Yellow woolly willow catkins (catkins) bloom on exposed limbs in the spring.

The little to medium-sized peachleaf willow tree’s leaves resemble peach tree leaves, as the common name suggests. Peachleaf willow trees may be single-stemmed or multi-stemmed, depending on the species. Peachleaf willow trees grow quickly and have a short lifespan; nonetheless, they are extremely popular.

Willow tree leaves

The peachleaf willow has lance-shaped green leaves with serrated edges that make it unique. The leaves have a pale, white underside. The golden yellow of the peachleaf willows is stunning.

Pacific Willow (Salix lucida)

The Pacific willow tree is a fast-growing deciduous shrub or small willow tree that grows between 13 and 36 feet (4 and 11 meters) tall. The graceful willow has dark bark and long glossy lanceolate green leaves. It is also known as black willow or whiplash willow. In the spring, yellow fuzzy blooms appear after the leaves, measuring 0.4–3.5 inches (1–9 cm).

The leaf growth gives the Pacific willow its common names. Whiplash willow gets its name from the fact that the leaves’ tips curve. One of the few varieties that blooms after the foliage have emerged is this pacific willow species.

Willow tree leaves

Lanceolate-shaped leaves with a dark-green glossy shine cover the Pacific willow tree flowers. Acuminate means that the deciduous leaves taper to a point.

Corkscrew Willow (Salix matsudana ‘Tortuosa’)

Corkscrew willow (Salix matsudana ‘Tortuosa’) is a weeping willow with long leaves, twisted branches, and gray-brown bark. It is distinguished by its upright twisting branches. Early in the spring, fuzzy pale yellow-green catkins appear. Cork Screw Willow is a popular weeping willow found in many countries throughout Asia.

Due to its spiral twisting branches that have an upright form, the cultivar known as the ‘Tortuosa’ is called the corkscrew willow. The corkscrew willow is a huge tree, rather than a deciduous shrub. It’s distinguished by its abundant number of twisted stems and may grow up to 40 feet (12 meters) tall.

The corkscrew willow tree is also a popular dwarf variety of willow and is popular among bonsai enthusiasts because of its twisting nature.

Willow tree leaves

The corkscrew willow has some of the most distinct willow tree leaves, including corkscrew leaves and blooms. The long strap-like pointed leaves of the corkscrew willow grow curled and twisted, much like the growth of this crooked willow tree. Up to 4″ (10 cm) long, the corkscrew willow leaves

Dappled Willow (Salix integra ‘Hakuro-Nishiki’)

The dappled willow (Salix integra ‘Hakuro-Nishiki’) is a tiny shrub or shrubby tree that grows to between 4 and 6 feet (1.2 and 1.8 meters) tall. It is a kind of variegated little willow tree. The 0.8- to 4-inch (2-to 10 cm) long green leaves are just 0.8 inch (2 cm) broad. The variegated long, thin leaves of the dappled Japanese willow are green with white and pink blotches, which are one of the plant’s fascinating features.

The leaves are positioned on stems in opposing pairs, rather than alternately, unlike most other willow species. The flamingo willow branches turn a attractive red color in the winter after the leaves fall off in the fall. Tricolor willow, Nishiki willow, and Japanese variegated willow are some of the other names for this variegated species of willow.

With upright growth, the Japanese willow is one of the most stunning dwarf willows available for your sunny garden.

Willow tree leaves

The variegated pencil-thin, lance-shaped leaves of the lovely Dappled willow are called “Hakuro-Nishiki.” In the fall, the creamy-white leaves turn vivid yellows.

Purple Willow (Salix purpurea)

The purple willow has purple shoots and purple-red blossom clusters when it is young. The lanceolate leaves, which are elongated in appearance, are characteristic of willow plants. The purple willow has a few distinguishing characteristics. Purple or red instead of white or yellow, the catkins (flowers) are smaller than most willow plants.

The purple osier willow is another name for this little willow shrub. The purple shoots of this willow species give it its name when they’re young. The stems of the shrubby willow tree become light gray as it grows older. A purple osier willow cultivar called Salix purpurea ‘Pendula’ has arching cascading branches as well.

Willow leaves

The shrub has tiny, lanceolate leaves with finely serrated edges, as do other osier willows. As they grow on reddish-brown stems, the leaves have an elegant arching form.

White Willow (Salix alba)

The white willow is a medium-sized tree that grows between 32 and 98 feet (10 and 30 meters) tall. Its 3.2-foot (1-meter) diameter gray-brown fissured trunk is impressive. The slender pointed leaves with pale-gray undersides of the magnificent willow. It has 2″ (5 cm) long fluffy blooms. In USDA zones 4 to 8, the hardy willow may be found.

The widespread white willow, which is native to Europe and Central Asia, is a huge willow tree. The white undersides of the small thin leaves give it its common and scientific names. The widespread white willow does not weep or have drooping branches, which distinguishes it from the Salix alba ‘Tristis’ cultivar.

The lightweight, extremely hard wood of other Salix alba cultivars such as ‘Caerulea’ and the attractive yellow shoots of the golden willow ‘Vitellina’ are also popular.

Willow tree leaves

The white willow has paler green leaves than other willows, which are distinguished by the white willow. Fine white hairs cover the lanceolate pointed leaves.

Scarlet Willow (Salix alba var. vitellina ‘Britzensis’)

In the winter, scarlet willow has colorful bright red or orange bark with decorative orange to red branches. The fast-growing tree may grow to be 15–70 feet (4–21 meters) tall and 10–40 feet (3–12 meters) broad. In the fall, the thin lance-shaped leaves become serrated and change color from dark green to yellow.

In the winter, scarlet willow has lovely crimson stalks, making it a popular white willow cultivar. This medium-sized deciduous willow tree can be used as a stunning landscape shrub with multiple stems. Adding winter color to your garden with this spectacular willow shrub or tree.

Willow tree leaves

The small, pointed, and lanceolate Willow leaves are colorful. The tip and base of the slender willow leaves gradually shrink. The 4″ (10 cm) long scarlet willow leaves are

Yellow Willow (Salix lutea)

Yellow willow is a massive shrubby tree that grows up to 22 feet (7 meters) tall in wet environments. In an alternate pattern, the green leaves on reddish stems grow. The leaves of this willow are dull green and lance-shaped, with an elliptical shape that may grow to 4.3″ (11 cm). When it blooms in the spring, the yellow willow bears 2-inch (5-cm) long greenish spiky catkins.

In North America, yellow willows may be found in a variety of damp environments. Along rivers and streams, as well as on the banks of lakes, you’ll find the shrubby willow. Because soil erosion is a issue, willows like this grow quickly, readily reproduce, and have an intricate root system that makes them popular.

Willow leaves

When immature, yellow willow leaves have pointed tips, but as they mature, their rounded tips become more apparent.

Types of Willow Shrubs with Pictures for Easy Identification

Bebb’s Willow (Salix bebbiana)

Bebb’s willow is a tall, hardy deciduous bush with numerous woody stems and thick foliage. It thrives as a quick growing hardy shrub. The typical willow ovate to lanceolate form with a pointed tip, with leaves that are about 5″ (12 cm) long on this shrubby willow. Bebb’s willow has stems that may stretch up to 30 feet (9 meters).

The round base and long beak of Bebb’s willow catkins set them apart from other species of willows. The diamond markings on the twigs give them their name. Gray willow, long-beaked willow, beaked willow, and red willow are all terms for Bebb’s willow.

Hardy willow plants that grow in USDA zones 3 to 7 are called Bebb’s willow shrubs. Bebb’s willow thrives in full to partial sunlight and wet, occasionally flooded terrain, as do other willow species.

Willow leaves

Broadleaves with a tapered tip and base that are ovate shaped are known as Bebb’s willow leaves. The serrated, wavy edges of a willow leaf

Narrowleaf Willow (Salix exigua)

The narrow-leaf willow is a deciduous shrub that can be found from coast to coast in North America. Its leaves are silvery green. The narrowleaf willow shrub has long, narrow leaves, as the name implies. Coyote willow and sandbar willow are two other names for this species.

The identifying traits of the narrowleaf willow are as follows: Between 13 and 23 feet (4 until 7 meters) long, the sturdy wooden stems may extend. The leaves of this densely growing plant are up to 4.7 inches (12 cm) long and 0.079 to 0.39 inch (2 to 10 mm) broad. In the spring, long, furry catkins up to 4″ (10 cm) long appear. Baskets, poles, and even string may be fashioned from the slender stems of narrowleaf willows.

Willow leaves

The pencil-thin, pointed green leaves of the narrowleaf willow shrub The leaves of this willow species, like those of many other willows, have silky white hairs on the underside.

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