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JPR Environmental
The Malthouse
GL10 3DL

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living willow structures

Salix alba - White Willow

Here are two pictures of Salix alba, White Willow showing the growth to July.

Salix alba half.jpg (48592 bytes)

Picture of Salix alba

Salix alba closeup half.jpg (18197 bytes)
Close up picture of Salix alba

JPR Environmental is happy for you to download and copy these images for your own use should you want. However,  we would ask you to credit us as the source of the image.


White willow is a tall graceful tree which generally grows to between 10 and 25 m tall, though occasionally they will top 30m. The trunk is usually well developed with the principal boughs and branches ascending at a sharp angle to form a pointed or truncated crown, or a number of pointed “turrets”. The bark is deeply fissured and greyish-brown in colour. The twigs of Salix alba are at first densely pubescent with adpressed, silky hairs. They become glabrous and brown or olive in the second year. Buds are dark brown and again generally covered with adpressed pubescence; they are small, ovoid and pointed in shape.

White willow leaves are lanceolate-acuminate and between 5 and 10 cm long and about 1cm wide. Their edges are minutely serrated and the lamina at first silver/grey, this makes Salix alba easily identifiable at a distance, and become dull green with age.

Catkins appear with the leaves in late April or early May. Male catkins are about 5cm long and uniformly pale yellow, female catkins are shorter and narrower.


Salix Alba is common by rivers and streams in lowland areas of eastern Britain & Ireland. It generally becomes scarcer westwards, especially in Wales and Scotland.

White Willow is so widely planted that the limits of its natural distribution can no longer be ascertained.

Varieties of Salix alba which are discussed in other pages are extensively cultivated in the UK and hybrids regularly occur with Salix pentandra, Salix fragilis and Salix babylonica.

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