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Salix alba

white willow

S. alba is a tree, up to 25m high, with dark grey furrowed bark. Its long, narrow pointed leaves, up to 10cm long, are dull green above, blue-green beneath, and silky, so that they appear silvery-white at a distance; catkins, 4-6cm long, appear with the leaves in spring

Other common names
Huntingdon willow
swallow-tailed willow

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Size
Ultimate height
Higher than 12 metres
Time to ultimate height
20–50 years
Ultimate spread
Wider than 8 metres
Growing conditions
Chalk
Clay
Loam
Sand
Moisture
Moist but well–drained, Poorly–drained
pH
Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Colour & scent
StemFlowerFoliageFruit
Spring Green Yellow Green
Summer Green
Autumn Yellow
Winter
Position
  • Full sun
Aspect

North–facing or West–facing or East–facing or South–facing

Exposure
Exposed or Sheltered
Hardiness
H6
Botanical details
Family
Salicaceae
Native to the UK
Yes
Foliage
Deciduous
Habit
Spreading branched
Genus

Salix are deciduous shrubs and trees of diverse habit, with simple leaves and tiny flowers in catkins, male and female usually on separate plants. Some are valued for their brightly coloured winter shoots, others for their foliage or showy male catkins

Name status

Correct

How to grow

Cultivation

Grow in full sun in moist or wet soil; avoid planting near buildings because its roots take up a lot of water from a wide area

Propagation

Propagate by softwood cuttings in early summer or hardwood cuttings in winter; may also be propagated by large sets, up to 3.5m long and 2-3cm thick

Suggested planting locations and garden types
  • Wildlife gardens
  • Cottage and informal garden
Pruning

Pruning group 1

Pests

May be affected by aphids, caterpillars, gall mites, flea beetles, sawfly larvae, and willow scale

Diseases

May be affected by willow anthracnose, watermark disease, willow heart rot, rust diseases, crown gall, honey fungus, root rot, silver leaf, and tar spot

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