Salix pulchra : Flatleaf Willow


Scientific Name:

Kingdom: Plantae


Class: Dicoteldonae (two seed-leaves)

Family: Salicaceae (Willow Family)

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

Species: pulchra

Synonym(s): S. phylicifolia, S. planifolia ssp.pulchra

English Name(s):

Flatleaf Willow, Flat-leaved Paneleaf Tealeaf Diamond Willow

First Nation Names:




  • Branches dark-brown or reddish-brown. mostly glabrous (hairless).
  • Much branched erect or spreading shrub. 2-3 meters tall.
  • Twigs glabrous (hairless) glossy, brown to greenish-brown.


  • Alternate.
  • Petioled (on a stalk).
  • Buds of all salix spp. are covered by a single scale.
  • 3.5-5cm long by 1-2cm wide. glabrous (hairless), frequently persistent (not falling off).
  • elliptic-lanceolate in shape.
  • Stipules 3-15 mm long persistent (not falling off) for 2-4 years.
  • Margins entire (smooth) or remotely dentate (sparsely toothed).
  • Petiole (stalk) 3-10 mm long.
  • Upper surface dark green and glossy. Lower surface glaucus (greyish waxy).

Reproductive Parts:

  • Flowers lacking a parianth(sepals + petals). Born in cylindrical catkins.
  • Plants dioecious (uni-sexual).
  • Catkins sessile (no stalk) appearing before the leaves.
  • Female catkins 1.5-6.0cm long, pistils 2.0-2.8cm long.
  • Male catkins 1.5-5cm long.


  • Fruit a dehiscent (splitting open) capsule containing numerous small seeds.
  • 1 Nectary up to 3 times as long as the capsule stalk.
  • Capsules 5-6mm long, tawny or greenish, white silky with long soft hairs.

Not to Be Confused With:

  • Salix planifolia (Plane-leaved Willow) which can be distinguished by its lack of marcescent (withered) leaves.
  • 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.


  • Also found in Picea (Spruce) woodlands.
  • Forming thickets along alpine and tundra streams and lakeshores.






      Traditional Gwich'in:





              Traditional Other:





                    • Young shoots, catkins, inner bark, and leaves are eaten in the Arctic. The young leaves are eaten raw mixed with seal oil or they are cooked and are a highly regarded spring green.


                    Leaves with the persistent leaves of former years.

                    Male catrkins.

                    Famale catkins

                    Fruiting (female) catkin in seed.

                    More female catkins

                    Illustration from: Illustrated Flora of BC

                    Range Maps

                    World Range: Amiphi-berengian; In N.A. from NT to AK south to northern BC

                    Prov/State Abrev. List

                    In Yukon: Widespread

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