Willow Identification Key: Start

Instructions: Options for moving forward in the key (down the tree) are presented as links preceded by the ➼ symbol. There are several ways of moving around the key: The first and most common way is to click on one of the items in breadcrumb on the top of the page. This takes you back to selected key level. The "back" button in your browser will reverse the step which you have just taken, regardless of what step that was. If you feel lost in the key, click on "Start" link at the top of the page that will return you to the start.

Tree Willows

Trees or large shrubs with lance-shaped to elliptic leaves, toothed margins, silky or hairless; catkins appear with the leaves in late spring.

Tree willow in winter
Tree willow in winter
Tree willow leaves
Tree willow leaves

Osier Willows

The osiers, or basket willows, are tall shrubs with slender branches and long narrow leaves. The leaves are 3 to 10 times longer than wide and usually having a smooth or irregularly toothed margin. The leaves and bark of some osiers have a high salicin content and are usually very bitter to taste. The catkins are large and closely-spaced along the one-year old shoots. They appear 2-3 weeks before the leaves.

Osier willow shoots
Osier willow shoots
Osier willow leaves
Osier willow leaves

Shrub Willows (Sallows)

Low shrubs or small trees with multiple branches; broad, oval to egg-shaped leaves up to 3 times longer than wide, more or less irregularly toothed; catkins appearing before the leaves.

Shrub willow shoots
Shrub willow shoots
Shrub willow leaves
Shrub willow leaves