White willow, like other species of willow, is very tolerant of wet sites. It is a fast-growing tree with weak wood that is prone to storm damage. This species is best known for its weeping cultivars ('weeping willows').
This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.
All Common Names:
- Residential and parks
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Shade tree,
- Large tree (more than 40 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Zone 2,
- Zone 3,
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8
- Moist, well-drained soil,
- Wet soil
- Wet sites,
- Occasional flooding,
- Alkaline soil,
- Clay soil,
- Road salt
- Moderately Tolerant
- Highly susceptible to ice damage,
- Roots prone to invading sewer pipes,
- Weak wood and branch structure
- Spring blossoms,
- Fall color,
- Showy flowers
Season of Interest:
- Early spring,
- Early fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
- Insect pollinators
Tree & Plant Care
A great upright willow for moist, wet areas. Trees have a shallow root system.
Full sun and pH adaptable.
Supplemental water in dry periods, plants benefit with a layer of mulch to moderate soil temperature and conserve moisture.
Prune in summer to late fall.
Disease, pests, and problems
Susceptible to ice and windstorm damage.
Numerous insects and disease problems: cankers, powdery mildew, leaf spots, willow leaf beetle, and scale.
Native geographic location and habitat
Central and southern Europe, western Siberia and central Asia.
Bark color and texture
Brown to yellow-brown, corky and furrowed.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Alternate, 1 to 4 inches long, slender, finely toothed, lancolate leaves. Bright green to dark green changing to yellow fall color.
Willows are one of first plants to leaf out in spring.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Dioecious; male and female flowers born in upright catkins. Male flowers are showy. Insect pollinated.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Seeds are a two-valved capsule.
Cultivars and their differences
Golden Weeping Willow (Salix alba 'Tristis'): A large weeping tree reaching 75-80 feet high and wide. In spring the bright yellow twigs and graceful form are quite showy. One of the first trees to leaf out in the spring. Prone to storm damage.
Golden Willow (Salix alba 'Vitellina'): This cultivar produces bright yellow stems.