Due to having lovely shapes, various types of willow trees grow around the world. They become water lovers and own several varieties that are seemly hard to distinguish.
However, you can easily recognize them by closely examining their characteristics. Therefore, this article presents the most recognizable types of willow trees to help you differentiate the features of each cultivar.
There is also additional information about how to plant and take care of the trees for home landscapes.
How to Identify a Willow Tree?
Numerous types of willow trees can be identified by the body parts. Some varieties have short trunks, long hanging branches that usually reach the ground.
Most cultivars come with long, narrow, soft, and non-lobed leaves. Their sizes are 6 mm wide and 51 mm long with toothed borders.
On the other hand, another variant has wide shiny leaves with double toothed edges. Then, the bark colors are from dark gray to reddish-brown. Interestingly, all types of willow trees have flowers that develop tiny fuzzy fruits that resemble capsules and consist of seeds.
Since most types of willow trees love wet soils, their wide-spreading root systems are sturdy and vigorous. They naturally grow near the rivers, swamps, streams, and lakes.
Sometimes, you will find two varieties that look similar such as the weeping and white willow. Salix babylonica has lots of drooping branches, whereas S. Alba only features a few hanging twigs. The silvery leafy tree also comes with olive-green stems and light brown twigs.
Willow Tree Care
Some types of willow trees are suitable for home landscape as long as they have moist areas in full direct sunlight. There are several tips on how to cultivate and take care of them.
Start growing some types of willow trees from cuttings. Cut a 4-5cm stem from a live branch and place it into humid soil in a container. You can also directly cultivate the section in the garden. Keep the ground moist until new roots develop.
Other types of willow trees can be grown from a one-year-old bare root plant. The initial step is soaking it in a bucket before cultivating. Then, push the section into the soil and water the tree regularly. There are some ways to have a quick growing shrub or tree.
How to Growing Shrub or Tree
Firstly, define the proper planting area to prevent the vigorous roots spread all over your garden beds. Avoid a soggy ground as these underground parts establish. Then, add a protective device to keep the wild animals away. Young types of willow trees often attract deers, rabbits, and elks.
Furthermore, caring for all types of willow trees is easy. They require moderate maintenance. All you need to do is pruning the young plants to raise the lower large primary branch.
Another way to take care of the willow tree is by removing the dead and old twigs or branches. Otherwise, trimming is not necessary except for the pussy cultivar.
The willow trees require soil that is rich in organic matters and moist conditions. If your planting area has limited nutrients, add compost and fertilizer in the early spring season to keep the plants flourish.
Additionally, regular watering is important. Besides, keep away all types of willow trees from diseases and pests. Do some preventive techniques before the first sign of health problem appears.
Importantly, you need to know several pests that will damage all types of willow trees. They include gypsy moth, scab, crown gall, black canker, bagworm, and leaf beetle. These kinds of bacteria, fungus, and caterpillars usually come in late May until July.
The pests can deprive of the willow leaves. Some types of bacteria may cause dieback, discoloration, and stunting. Also, the trees that are infected by fungus can create dark brown dotted markings on the plants.
Unfortunately, the infected trees will get an abnormal change in the plant structure like the black-edged grayish-white lesions on the twigs and stems. Besides, the willow blight will cause foliage death if there is not any treatment to cure the problems.
Different Types of Willow Trees
The types of willow trees have more than 100 species in which the 40 varieties are shrub-size and tree-size. There are about twelve popular cultivars that have been cultivated in all countries. Also, some cultivars are specifically grown in Alaska.
The Snowbed willow and the Least are two famous names of the dwarf tree. This variety belongs to the Salicaceae and comes natively from Canada and the Atlantic. It has round leaves with toothed edges, red female catkins, and yellow male aments.
Moreover, the dwarf types of willow trees mature at the height of 1 to 2 inches. Therefore, the variety becomes a low-growing shrub. The weeping leaves are united to form a graft on a thin stem. Besides, it is often treated as small foliage.
The Arctic willow or Salix Arctica has a sturdy feature that can resist harsh weather in subarctic regions. This light purple foliage gives wildlife value to muskoxen, caribou, and lemmings. The barks and twigs become the source of food for these ocean animals.
The crack willow that looks like the white tree variety is native to Asia, Europe, and the UK. This tall foliage thrives closely with the water bodies. It features both light and dark leaves, green female aments, and yellow catkins.
Although the tree is often mistaken for the white cultivar, there are some differences between them. The brittle willow tree leaves are shorter than it.
Then, the Salix alba has separated white hair, whereas the crack types of willow trees do not have this feature on their structures. Meanwhile, the white variant has shorter foliage than S. Fragilis.
Salix triandra spreads over some regions in Asia and Europe. The tree produces both male and female aments along with new foliage in the spring season. It has tedious and dark green leaves that resemble the almond.
Additionally, the almond willow plant is beneficial for honeybees to produce nectar. Manufacturers create biofuel energy from these small trees. Also, the young leafy stems are useful for making baskets in some countries.
Moreover, the almond types of willow trees feature some edible parts. For instance, let the inner barks dry and ground them into powder. They can be cooked or eating raw. This additional ingredient can be mixed with cereal flour to make bread.
The Salix scouleriana is the smallest cultivar that grows around some regions in America. This fugacious plant matures at a height of 0.8 to 4.7 inches. The shrub develops stringy and sweeping branches to support the tree for a long-lasting period.
This rusty gold hairy willow consists of a white-hued lower surface and dark green upper part. The scouler variety resembles a diamond and grows wide leaves with sharp ends along the middle stems. Then, you will see the developing catkins and fruits around the brown bark.
Furthermore, the scouler types of willow trees thrive mild dry areas, and their wood offers various carving uses. People grow these plants to support heavy water bodies and manage land erosion.
The sandbar and coyote cultivar are the common names of Salix exigua. People initially cultivate this plant in North America. The willow tree identification is by looking at the thin and straight stems with shiny green foliage.
Even more, the tall sandbar types of willow trees reach about 5 meters in height. They provide some beneficial purposes for the Great Basin Indians.
These coyote willow woods are also turned into varied handmade crafts like baskets, ropes, fish traps, cradleboards, arrows, and bows.
Instead of the landscaping uses, some parts from these types of willow trees are beneficial for medication. Some treatments for toothache, dandruff, and dysentery expend the bark powder and healing tea.
Purple Osier Willow
Salix purpurea is a botanical name of the purple osier willow. This tall tree that comes from Europe, Asia, and Africa can develops up to 3 meters.
You will notice multiple stems grow around the shrub. Uniquely, the leaves develop after producing the catkins.
The osier types of willow trees have young male catkins with a mauve hue and a soft hairy surface. Every ament features a stalk in the middle of flower bud clusters. Its small blossoms have purple anthers that can turn into a yellow color.
On the contrary, the young female aments from these types of willow trees come with the chartreuse hue. Their catkins feature lots of stalks and clusters of flower buds.
Additionally, the light gray trunks and brown branches come with bushy growth habit. Their slender barks are sturdy enough to support the plants.
Then, enjoy several colorations of the twigs such as green, yellow, and magenta.
The fast-growing tree, Salix amygdalaoides, comes from wet regions in the US and Canada. It mostly grows alongside the rivers, lakes, and streams. Its sizes are available from the small, medium, to large.
A prominent character of this variety is featuring wide and long leaves that look like a peach tree. They are in a shade of tinged green with a yellow hue. Its aments also have the same color as this beautiful foliage.
Since peach-leaf types of willow trees can prevent soil erosion, people cultivate them to fulfill empty areas in the landscape. This unique beneficial purpose might distinguish these willow plants with other varieties. However, if the shrub grows so fast, their lifespan will be short.
A pretty dappled willow tree develops attractive shrubs with beautiful shades of green, pink, and white. Its color changes will occur depending on the seasons. During the blooming time, the leaves look like other common foliage.
In winter and fall, the branches of these types of willow trees are a kind of complement to the dark red leaves. At the flip-flop of the season, the pink shrubs transform into green and white foliage.
Many homeowners fill-up the yards and garden with these types of willow trees to establish a magnificent landscape. It is because the foliage provides a showy look.
That is to say that Salix integra is the most beautiful foliage that received an award due to its pretty appearance. The dense shrubs pairs well to the unique leaves with a lance shape.
Thus, planting the dappled types of willow trees is a quick way to enhance the beauty of your backyards.
Growing around many regions in Asia and Europe, Salix caprea is well-known as the pussy foliage. It is because the developing gray male aments look similar to the cat’s paw. Its deciduous leaves also come in a heavy-wide form.
The distinct features of this long-living plant are taupe-hued barks, soft twigs as it matures, and oval-pointy leaves. These leafy goat willows have tiny gray hair at the lower side with the hairless upper part.
In addition, the blooming catkins of the pussy types of willow trees happen during the early spring season. Their female flowers will be wooly seeds after the wind pollination.
You can find them near the lakes, streams, and canals. They also grow near woodland, scrubs, and hedgerows.
White Willow Tree
Salix alba gets the name of the white willow since it features silvery leaves. The illustrious plant grows fast about 21 meters tall. It is native to Africa, Asia, and Europe, but has already cultivated all around the world.
These types of willow trees can hold the shrubs during the autumn before shedding in fall. Interestingly, Salix alba is the first willow tree that has blooming flowers and leaves in the spring season. Its droopy shoots and furrowed barks create lightsome foliage.
These types of weeping willow trees have a unique look since they have a rounded growth habit with long leaves and hanging branches. They got the name because of the slender foliage that confronts the earth.
Moreover, the dangling lance-shaped leaves will attract the viewers and enhance the look of the empty landscape.
This elegant tree turns into a vibrant yellow color in fall. However, in the spring season, the weeping willow offers a chirpiness while blooming.
Its lovely characteristics include the rough gray barks, yellow flowers, and sturdy deep roots. In short, the weeping types of willow trees have a lifespan that can last for over 30 years.
Black Willow Tree
Salix nigra belongs to either a tree or shrub and becomes one of the willow varieties. It has a tiny trunk with long green leaves. Also, the sark furrowed bark is the reason why the plant got its name.
The black willow droops the leaves in the autumn season. They come with a shiny green hue on the tip. Their lower part has the same color but softer than the upper one. Then, the yellow catkins usually produce furry seeds that appear like small chestnut-colored capsules.
Furthermore, in the wild habitat, the black types of willow trees grow over 30 meters tall. They are mostly found in flood rolling treeless country and on the river banks. Thankfully, these plants give wildlife values to the animals.
Mammals like deers use these types of willow trees as shelters. Moreover, the black willow flowers always produce nectar that attracts honeybees to come.
Besides, Salix nigra is useful for human beings. People use the woods to construct furniture, doors, and lumber instead of planting it as shade foliage.
The Pacific or Roland willow is botanically named as Salix lasiandra. This plant looks similar to the black cultivar.
It matures about 4.5 to 12 meters tall with 30 cm in diameter. Their leaves’ shape is like a lance head with a grayish-green hue.
Similar to other types of willow trees, this attractive plant features an irregular crown and wide-spreading branches. It functions as bank restoration, stream protection, reclamation, and windbreaks.
Compared to other types of willow trees, the Bebb or Wilson cultivar has oval and oblong leaves. The young foliage looks pale green, but the appearance will transform into furry and dull as it matures. Additionally, the reddish-brown stems form a round-shaped crown.
Salix barclayi refers to the Barclay or the long willow. This tree has a neat form of growth habit, so it is useful for shelterbelts, landscaping, and windbreaks. Its foliage cultivates in the bottom half region of Alaska.
Felt Leaf Willow
Salix alaxensis has an extended growth habit and functions to control soil erosion. The felt leaf or Rhode plants are tall types of willow trees that reach 9 meters and 15 cm in diameter.
Meanwhile, the elliptical and narrow leaves have a yellowish-green hue with a white hairy texture below the surface.
The Oliver foliage naturally grows in South Central Alaska. This barren ground variety offers some benefits for wildlife as well as soil control like other types of willow trees.
Salix brachycarpa develops with high stem compactness. Therefore, it becomes the right choice for hedges and barriers to protect from storm and wind. Another function is helping to lessen soil erosion.
To conclude, variegated willow trees appear similar from one to another, but indeed they bring distinct features.
All types of willow trees are advantageous since these plants provide an attractive look to surroundings, wildlife benefits, and excellent land control.