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Marcus, Joseph A.
Salix nigra Marshall
Black willow, Gulf black willow
Synonym(s): Salix ambigua, Salix denudata, Salix dubia, Salix falcata, Salix flavovirens, Salix ligustrina, Salix ludoviciana, Salix nigra var. altissima, Salix nigra var. brevifolia, Salix nigra var. brevijulis, Salix nigra var. falcata, Salix nigra var. lindheimeri, Salix nigra var. longifolia, Salix nigra var. marginata, Salix purshiana
USDA Symbol: SANI
USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)
A fast-growing tree, 10-60 ft., with an open crown often with several trunks growing out at angles from one root. Found in wet soil along streams and at the margins of ponds and lakes. Leaf blades up to 5 inches long, narrow and tapering to an elongate tip, margins finely serrate. Bright yellow-green twigs bear yellow-green catkins. Flowers inconspicuous, arranged in elongate clusters which appear in March and April; male and female flowers on separate trees. Seeds wind-borne on silky hairs. The bark is deeply furrowed.
This is the largest and most important New World willow, with one of the most extensive ranges across the country. In the lower Mississippi Valley it attains commercial timber size, reaching 100-140 (30-42 m) in height and 4 (1.2 m) in diameter. Large trees are valuable in binding soil banks, thus preventing soil erosion and flood damage. Mats and poles made from Black Willow trunks and branches provide further protection of riverbanks and levees. One of the lightest of all eatern hardwoods, it is extremely weak in a structural sense. Yet it has a strength of its own. When nails are driven into it, black willow does not split. Also a shade tree and honey plant.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Tree Breeding System:
, Dioecious Leaf:
Green Autumn Foliage:
Brown Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May
, WV Canada: MB
, QC Native Distribution:
S. New Brunswick and Maine south to NW. Florida, west to S. Texas, and north to SE. Minnesota; also from W. Texas west to N. California; local in N. Mexico; to 5000 (1524 m). Native Habitat:
Stream banks, ditches, tanks, low ground, and other areas of wet soil throughout Texas.
Growing ConditionsWater Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Wet
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Clay, Loam, Sand
Conditions Comments: Short-lived and fast-growing. Susceptible to insect and wind damage.
Fall conspicuous, Fast growing, Shade tree Use Wildlife:
tender twigs and buds are food for browsers such as deer, rabbits and beaver. Early season harvest for songbirds, waterfowl and small mammals. Use Medicinal:
of the roots is intensely bitter and used to be an ingredient of spring tonics to purge the blood. Use Other:
The numerous uses of the wood include millwork, furniture, doors, cabinetwork, boxes, barrels, toys, and pulpwood. During the American Revolution, the wood of black willow (and of other willows) was made into fine charcoal, which was then used to make gunpowder. The young stems are very flexible and are used in basket and furniture making. The twigs can be split in half lengthways, sun-dried and used as the foundation of coiled basketry. The plant is usually coppiced annually when grown for basket making. Fragrant Flowers:
Birds , Butterflies Larval Host:
Mourning Cloak, Viceroy, Red-spotted Purple, Viceroy and Tiger Swallowtail.
Willows are among the easiest of all plants to root from cuttings. Stem
and root cuttings are used. Propagation is also accomplished by sowing fresh, untreated seed into a moist seedbed. Seed Collection:
Collect seeds as soon as the capsules begin to dry and turn yellow-brown. Separate from capsule
and plant immediately. Seed Treatment:
Not Available Commercially Avail:
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Mr. Smarty Plants says
Decline in willow tree in West Virginia
June 15, 2008
I planted a willow tree about three years ago and it was progressing just beautifully with full leaves this spring in a nice green color. We staked it back about three weeks so it would grow straight...
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Wispy plant to put behind a waterfall
May 30, 2008
Needing a 10-20ft wispy ______ to plant behind our waterfall to help block out road noise. We live in Austin.
I've looked at the Mexican weeping bamboo but are there other options?
view the full question and answer
National Wetland Indicator Status
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1
(Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here
for map of regions.
From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
- Austin, TXPineywoods Native Plant Center
- Nacogdoches, TXSibley Nature Center
- Midland, TXBrackenridge Field Laboratory
- Austin, TXCrosby Arboretum
- Picayune, MSNueces River Authority
- Uvalde, TXStengl Biological Research Station
- Smithville, TXTexas Parks and Wildlife Department
- Austin, TXNational Butterfly Center
- Mission, TXJacob's Well Natural Area
- Wimberley, TX
Herbarium Specimen(s)NPSOT 0306
Collected Apr 28, 1987 in Bexar County by Harry CliffeNPSOT 0764
Collected May 8, 1994 in Comal County by Mary Beth White
Record Last Modified: 2007-09-02
Research By: TWC Staff