Salix arbusculoides : Littletree Willow


Scientific Name:

Kingdom: Plantae


Class: Dicoteldonae (two seed-leaves)

Family: Salicaceae (Willow Family)

Genera: Salix (Willows) (Classic Latin name for willow)

Species: arbusculoides (Lat. arbour= a tree + Gk. -oeides = have the form of = shaped like a small tree.)

English Name(s):

Littletree Willow,

First Nation Names:




  • Erect shrub or slender tree. 1-5m tall sometimes taller.
  • Branches slender, glossy.
  • Twigs smooth, reddish, shiny.


  • Alternate.
  • Buds of all salix spp. (Willows) are covered by a single scale.
  • Narrowly elliptic-lanceolate in shape
  • 2-6cm long by 1-1.5cm wide.
  • Margins finely glandular serrate or in some nearly entire (smooth).
  • Upper surface glossy and glabrous (hairless) when mature.
  • Lower surface silky with short appressed hairs.

Reproductive Parts:

  • Flowers lacking a parianth(sepals + petals). Born in cylindrical catkins.
  • Plants dioecious (uni-sexual).
  • Catkins appearing with the leaves, sessile (no stalk) or on short leafy peduncles (stalks).
  • Pistillate catkins (female) 2-5cm long, loosely flowered, Pistils sericeous (silky hairy).
  • Stipes (stlks) 0.6-0.9mm long.
  • Nectaries rodlike, as long or longer than stipe.
  • Bracts oblong, obtuse, or rounded at tip, pubescent (hiary) with curly or long straight hairs.
  • Staminate catkins (male) 1.8-2.5cm long.


  • Fruit a dehiscent (splitting open) capsule containing numerous small seeds.
  • Seed capsules (mature pistils) 4-5mm long. sparsely sericeous (silky hairy) with white or rust-coloured hairs.

Not to Be Confused With:

  • Many of the erect shrub Salix (Willow) species can be hard to distinguish from each other. Useing the Keys and especially the Character Chart Key on the Salicaceae (Willow Family) Page should help.



  • Are insect pollenated. Both male and female flowers have nectaries to attract pollenating insects. Male pollen is also brightly coloured red or yellow to attract insects.
  • Several types of galls can be seen on willows. These are deformations of plant tissue caused by the physical actions or chemical secretions of insects.
  • Willow Roses are a type of gall that grows on some species of willow. It is caused by the larvae of Cecidomyia rosaria. The larvae through chemical secretions cause the leaves of the bud to grow in a rose petal like fashion.

Life Cycle:

Seasonal Cycle:

  • Leaves and catkins deciduous.
  • Catkins appearing with the leaves.


Animal Uses:

  • In spring and early summer the catkins and young leaves are eagerly eaten by many mammals and birds.
  • Moose, caribou and deer all eat the twigs and young branches.
  • The twigs and bark are eaten by hares and lemmings.
  • Willow is an important food for bears and a secondary food for beavers.
  • Willow is an important food for many animals.
  • Winter buds are one of the principle winter foods of ptarmigan and grouse.


  • Stream banks, muskegs,forest, thickets nad tundra.
  • Openings in Picea (spruce) and Betula (birch) forests.
  • Widespread






      Traditional Gwich'in:





              Traditional Other:






                      leaves and old female catkins (photo by Jamie Fenneman, e-Flora BC)

                      Narrow leaves and red twigs

                      Illustration from: Illustrated Flora of BC

                      Range Maps

                      World Range: Boreal western North America; extending from Hudson Bay westward to central AK.

                      Prov/State Abrev. List

                      In Yukon: North to the endge of the arctic tundra. Altitudinally to the edge of the alpine tundra.

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