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Salix caprea subsp. caprea

Salix caprea subsp. caprea - goat willow, pussy willow, sallow

The goat willow is one of the most widespread woody species throughout Eurasia: its natural range extends from the Atlantic coast via the cold northern seas to the Pacific coast. Male and female flowers are produced on separate trees and early in spring the male trees can easily be distinguished at the forest edge from the yellow glow of their flowering. They are an important source of food for bees awakening from their winter dormancy.

From some reason the goat willow is rather despised among the native Finnish species. Very often its multi-stemmed habit is enough for it to be the target of brush saws. But among the various forms some have beautiful foliage and the species deserves a place in the garden. The coloration of the young branches varies from green to very pale. In the right place it grows to a good size, with an oval crown which gradually spreads with age as the branches curve outwards.

The habit is variable and several forms have been selected for cultivation, such as the male weeping ’Kilmarnock’ and female ‘Weeping Sally’. Unfortunately sales outlets seem to offer only Salix caprea 'Pendula'. The branches of the weeping forms droop so strongly that they create bowl-shaped leafy shelters which children love.

 

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