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Salix eriocephala (Missouri river willow)
Smith, R.W.

Salix eriocephala

Salix eriocephala Michx.

Missouri River Willow, Missouri Willow, Stiff Willow

Salicaceae (Willow Family)

Synonym(s): Salix acutidens, Salix angustata, Salix cordata, Salix cordata ssp. rigida, Salix cordata var. abrasa, Salix cordata var. angustata, Salix cordata var. missouriensis, Salix cordata var. rigida, Salix cordata var. rigida, Salix cordata var. rigida, Salix cordata var. vestita, Salix discolor var. eriocephala, Salix missouriensis, Salix myricoides var. angustata, Salix myricoides var. cordata, Salix myricoides var. rigida, Salix rigida, Salix rigida var. angustata, Salix rigida var. vestita, Salix torreyana

USDA Symbol: saer

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

A narrow shrub or small tree to 25 ft. with multiple trunks and dark-gray, scaly bark. Lance-shaped leaves are thick and persistently pubescent beneath. Catkins, which appear before the leaves in early spring, are densely silky.


From the Image Gallery

1 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 25 feet tall, often shorter.
Leaf: Green
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Brown

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Feb , Mar , Apr , May , Jun


USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SD , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: NB , NS , ON , PE
Native Distribution: Nf. to Yukon, s. to VA, n. AR, KS, AZ & CA
Native Habitat: Banks of large streams; flood plains; wet meadows

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist , Wet
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Moist, sandy soils
Conditions Comments: Short-lived and fast-growing. Susceptible to insect, disease, and wind damage. *This species consists of about a half dozen varieties, some of which are sometimes treated at the specific level, including the western species S. mackenzieana, S. lutea & S. monochroma. Var. rigida is the typical species in the e. U.S. & Canada.


Use Medicinal: Heartleaf willow typically has silvery galls caused by small insects. In the past, galls were steeped to make a medicinal tea for stimulating urination and relieving fluid retention. (Kershaw)
Attracts: Butterflies
Larval Host: Mourning Cloak

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees

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

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Mourning Cloak
(Nymphalis antiopa)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA


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 onto a moist seedbed. Seed viability lasts only a few days.
Seed Treatment: No treatment is necessary.
Commercially Avail: yes

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.


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

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2023-05-16
Research By: TWC Staff

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