Salix lanata : Woolly Willow


Scientific Name:

Kingdom: Plantae


Class: Dicoteldonae (two seed-leaves)

Family: Salicaceae (Willow Family)

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

Species: lanata (Lat. lanatus= woolly; referring to the dence wooly hairs of young twigs)

Synonym(s): S.richardsonii

English Name(s):

Woolly Willow, Richardson's Willow

First Nation Names:




  • Shrubs 0.5-4.0m or more high.
  • Branches reddish brown, pubescent (hairy), stout, gnarly.
  • Branchlets densely white-lanate (furry)


  • Alternate.
  • Buds of all salix spp. (Willows) are covered by a single scale.
  • Elliptic, oblanceolate to ovate in shape.
  • 3.5-6.5cm long by 1.5-4.0cm wide.
  • Margins entire (smooth) to glandular (with glands) serrulate or crenate.
  • Surfaces glabrous or sparsely villous (soft hairy), with lower surface glaucus (blueish waxy).
  • Stipules often large, 6-17mm long, linear to ovate in shape, glandular serrulate to irregularly toothed, usually persistent (not falling), for several years.

Reproductive Parts:

  • Flowers lacking a parianth(sepals + petals). Born in cylindrical catkins.
  • Plants dioecious (uni-sexual).
  • Catkins sessile (stalkless), thick, stiff, appearing before the leaves.
  • Pistilate (female) catkins 3-9cm long, rachis (central stalk) densely white-lanate at base.
  • Pedicels (stalks) 0.2-0.5mm long.
  • Nectary 1, 2-3 times as long as the stipe(stalk).
  • Bracts dark brown, pubescent with long white or in some yellow hairs.
  • Staminate (male) catkins 2.5-4.5cm long.


  • Fruit a dehiscent (splitting open) capsule containing numerous small seeds.
  • Seed capsules (mature pistils) 4.5-7.2mm long, glabrous (hairless), green.

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.
  • One of the first Willows to bloom in the spring. Finnished producing catkins by third week in July.


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.


  • Gravelly riverbanks and lakeshores, wet meadows, heathland, tundra, and in thickets on mountain slopes.






      Traditional Gwich'in:





              Traditional Other:






                      Erect shrub

                      Leaves and woolly branches

                      Leaves and woolly branches from below

                      Finished male catkin

                      Illustration from: Illustrated Flora of BC

                      Range Maps

                      World Range: Amphi-Berengian; from AK to Hudson Bay and Baffin Island, south into northern BC and southern Hudson Bay.

                      Prov/State Abrev. List

                      In Yukon: Found throughout much of the territory.

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