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Salix exigua (Narrowleaf willow)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy

Salix exigua

Salix exigua Nutt.

Narrowleaf Willow, Narrow-leaf Willow, Sandbar Willow, Coyote Willow

Salicaceae (Willow Family)

Synonym(s): Salix argophylla, Salix columbiana, Salix exigua var. angustissima, Salix exigua var. columbiana, Salix exigua var. hindsiana, Salix exigua var. luteosericea, Salix exigua var. nevadensis, Salix exigua var. parishiana, Salix exigua var. stenophylla, Salix exigua var. virens, Salix fluviatilis var. argophylla, Salix hindsiana, Salix hindsiana var. leucodendroides, Salix hindsiana var. parishiana, Salix hindsiana var. tenuifolia, Salix interior var. angustissima, Salix interior var. luteosericea, Salix linearifolia, Salix longifolia var. argophylla, Salix longifolia var. exigua, Salix longifolia var. opaca, Salix luteosericea, Salix macrostachya var. leucodendroides, Salix malacophylla, Salix nevadensis, Salix parishiana, Salix sessilifolia ssp. hindsiana, Salix sessilifolia var. hindsiana, Salix sessilifolia var. leucodendroides, Salix stenophylla, Salix thurberi

USDA Symbol: saex

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

A small, clumping, deciduous shrub or tree, usually from 4-15 ft. tall. The bark is gray and furrowed; the leaves silky-gray. Catkins appear after the leaves.

This hardy species has perhaps the greatest range of all tree willows: from the Yukon River in central Alaska to the Mississippi River in southern Louisiana. A common and characteristic shrub along streams throughout the interior, especially the Great Plains and Southwest, it is drought-resistant and suitable for planting on stream bottoms to prevent surface erosion. Livestock browse the foliage; Indians made baskets from the twigs and bark.


From the Image Gallery

2 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 55 feet tall, usually much shorter.
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Yellow
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul


USA: AZ , CA , CO , ID , MT , NE , NM , NV , OR , TX , UT , WA , WY
Canada: AB , BC , ON
Native Distribution: Cismontane CA to OR
Native Habitat: Along ditches & sandbars mostly below 3000 ft.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Wet
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Wet sandy gravels.
Conditions Comments: Excellent for stream stabilization as the plant suckers profusely.

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native 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)

Rocky Mountain agapema
(Agapema homogena)

Adult Food Source
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

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

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 on display at the following locations:

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
Texas Discovery Gardens - Dallas, TX
Sibley Nature Center - Midland, TX


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


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

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