Salix reticulata : Netleaf Willow


Scientific Name:

Kingdom: Plantae


Class: Dicoteldonae (two seed-leaves)

Family: Salicaceae (Willow Family)

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

Species: reticulata (Lat. retuculum= a small net, referring to the net like appearance of the viens on the leaves.)

English Name(s):

Netleaf Willow, Net-viened Willow, Netted Willow

First Nation Names:



  • Branches light-brown, glabrous (hairless), rather stout, freely rooting.
  • Prostrate shrub.


  • Alternate.
  • Petioled (on a stalk).
  • Buds of all salix spp. are covered by a single scale.
  • Stipules(leaf-like appendages) tiny.
  • Margins essentailly entire (smooth) and rolled downwards.
  • Petiole 10-25mm long.
  • Stiff, leathery, dark-green, glabrous (hairless), 1.2-6.5cm long by .8-5cm wide.
  • Viens strongly reticulate (net or web like).

Reproductive Parts:

  • Flowers lacking a parianth(sepals + petals). Born in cylindrical catkins.
  • Plants dioecious (uni-sexual).
  • Bracts, dark red, oblong to ovate in shape. with long, soft, flattened hairs.
  • Catkins small, born on a peduncle (stalk) on leafy branchlets.
  • Female catkins1-6cm long.
  • Male catkins 11-52mm long, each flower with 2-3 nectaries more or less surrounding the stamens.


  • Fruit a dehiscent (splitting open) capsule containing numerous small seeds.
  • Capsules with long soft somewhat flattened hairs.

Not to Be Confused With:

  • S.rotundifolia's dwarf from and net viened leaves are similar.
  • S.reticulata (Netleaf Willow) can be distinguished by its many flowered female catkins vs. S.rotundifolia (Round Leaved Willow) which often has only 2-4 flowers in each female catkin.



  • 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 and leaves appear at the same time.
  • Latest catkins finished blooming by 3rd week of 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.


  • Always found on calcareous soils.
  • Tundra turf, sandy or gravely sites. Rarely in forested and muskeg areas.






      Traditional Gwich'in:





              Traditional Other:






                      Plant with budding catkin.

                      Male catkin and leaves.

                      Fruiting (female) catkin.

                      Illustration from: Illustrated Flora of BC

                      Range Maps

                      World Range: Circumpolar arctic-alpine; Absent in Greenland; In N.A. from NL & LB to AK and mountainous parts of BC and AB.

                      Prov/State Abrev. List

                      In Yukon: Found in mountainous parts of Yukon.

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