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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Aquatic and Wetland Vascular Plants of the Northern Great Plains

21. Salicaceae, the Willow Family

2. Salix L. -- Willow

8. Salix fragilis L. -- Crack-willow, brittle willow


Large tree to 20 m tall; twigs olive to yellowish-brown, brittle, easily snapping off at the base; branchlets spreading, green to reddish-brown, eventually glabrous. Leaves dark to yellowish-green and shiny above, pale to white-glaucous beneath, glabrous, lanceolate to narrowly lanceolate, acuminate, often asymmetric at the tip, acute at the base, mostly 7-13 cm long, 1.5-3 cm wide, coarsely serrate, mostly with 4-6 glandular teeth per cm of margin; petioles 0.5-1.5 cm long, glandular-viscid at the summit, the glands often stipitate; stipules caducous, narrowly lanceolate, 2-3 mm long when well-developed, pubescent, entire. Catkins appearing with the leaves; female catkins 3-6 cm long, on leafy branchlets 1-3(5) cm long; bracts early deciduous, yellowish, pubescent, ciliate at the tip; stamens 2. Capsules narrowly conic, 4-5.5 mm long, glabrous, subsessile or on stipes to 1 mm long. Flowering May, fruiting early Jun. Intro. from Europe and planted as a shade tree, sometimes escaping to wet places throughout the region; (widely established in temperate N.Amer.; Eurasia).

See the discussion under S. alba.

GIF- Distribution Map

Map key


Previous Species -- Salix exigua Nutt. -- Sandbar willow, coyote willow
Return to Family -- Salicaceae - The Willow Family
Next Species -- Salix humilis Marsh. -- Prairie willow

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