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Salix nigra (Black willow) | NPIN
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Salix nigra (Black willow)
Marcus, Joseph A.

Salix nigra

Salix nigra Marshall

Black willow, Gulf black willow

Salicaceae (Willow Family)

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 Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Dioecious
Leaf: Green
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Brown
Size Class: 36-72 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May

Distribution

USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: MB , NB , ON , 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 Conditions

Water 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.

Benefit

Use Ornamental: Fall conspicuous, Fast growing, Shade tree
Use Wildlife: The bark, 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: The bark 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: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Larval Host: Mourning Cloak, Viceroy, Red-spotted Purple, Viceroy and Tiger Swallowtail.

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees
Special Value to Bumble Bees
Special Value to Honey Bees
Supports Conservation Biological Control

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Salix nigra is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Acadian Hairstreak
(Satyrium acadica)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA
Mourning Cloak
(Nymphalis antiopa)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA
Viceroy
(Limenitis archippus)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Propagation

Description: 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: yes

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

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...
view the full question and answer

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

From the National Suppliers Directory

According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:

Edge of the Woods Native Plant Nursery - Orefield, PA
American Native Nursery - Quakertown, PA

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Pineywoods Native Plant Center - Nacogdoches, TX
Sibley Nature Center - Midland, TX
Brackenridge Field Laboratory - Austin, TX
Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS
Nueces River Authority - Uvalde, TX
Stengl Biological Research Station - Smithville, TX
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX
National Butterfly Center - Mission, TX
Jacob's Well Natural Area - Wimberley, TX

Herbarium Specimen(s)

NPSOT 0306 Collected Apr 28, 1987 in Bexar County by Harry Cliffe
NPSOT 0764 Collected May 8, 1994 in Comal County by Mary Beth White

2 specimen(s) available in the Digital Herbarium

Bibliography

Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 354 - Native & Naturalized Woody Plants of Austin & the Hill Country (1981) Lynch, D.
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender
Bibref 297 - Trees of Central Texas (1984) Vines, Robert A.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Recommended Species Lists

Find native plant species by state. Each list contains commercially available species suitable for gardens and planned landscapes. Once you have selected a collection, you can browse the collection or search within it using the combination search.

View Recommended Species page

Additional resources

USDA: Find Salix nigra in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Salix nigra in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Salix nigra

Metadata

Record Modified: 2007-09-02
Research By: TWC Staff

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