Salix barratiana : Barratt Willow


Scientific Name:

Kingdom: Plantae


Class: Dicoteldonae (two seed-leaves)

Family: Salicaceae (Willow Family)

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

Species: barratiana (Named for Joseph Barratt, 1796-1882, a geologist of Connecticut and Pennsylvania.)

English Name(s):

Barratt Willow,

First Nation Names:




  • Upright much-branched gnarled shubs.
  • 0.3-1.0m high.
  • Forming dense often pure thickets.
  • Branches and twigs black, sparsely but permenently pubescent (hairy). Ragged from the black remains of stipules (leaf appendages) of former years.


  • Alternate.
  • Buds of all salix spp. (Willows) are covered by a single scale.
  • Crowded on branchlets.
  • Narrowly obovate to oblanceolate in shape.
  • 3-9cm long by 1-2.9cm wide.
  • Upper surface appressed tomentos (fuzzy), lower surface grey silky.
  • Subsessile (almost no stalk) to short petioled (stalked). Petioles up to 5mm long.
  • Margins entire (smooth) to glandular or very finely glandular-serrulate (toothed).
  • Stipules (leaf appendages) persistent (not falling off) glandular margined.

Reproductive Parts:

  • Flowers lacking a parianth(sepals + petals). Born in cylindrical catkins.
  • Plants dioecious (uni-sexual).
  • Catkins appearing before the leaves, sessile (no stalk).
  • Pistillate catkins (female) erect, 4-7 cm or more long, gray-shaggy
  • Styles 0.6-1.6mm l ong.
  • Nectary 1, as long or longer than stipe (stalk).
  • Bracts narrowly oblong, black to dark brown, long-pillose (soft hairs).
  • Staminate catkins (male) 3-5cm long.


  • Fruit a dehiscent (splitting open) capsule containing numerous small seeds.
  • Seed capsules (mature pistils) densely gray-silky, 4.5-6mm long.

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 before 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.


  • Moist alpine meadows and hillsides, river bottoms, and gravel in stream channels.
  • Forms dense often pure thickets.






      Traditional Gwich'in:





              Traditional Other:






                      Leaves and Female Catkins (photo by Jamie Fenneman)

                      Illustration from: Illustrated Flora of BC

                      Range Maps

                      World Range: North Cordilleran; from AK, YT, and the Mackenzie Mountains south to northwest MT.

                      Prov/State Abrev. List

                      In Yukon: In southern territory and Ogilvie, Mackenzie, and British Mountains

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