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Salix discolor

Pussy Willow

Silvery flowers, resembling 1" long bottlebrushes, bloom in late winter. The flowers provide pollen for native bees very early in the season and are conspicuous because they bloom on bare stems, before leaves appear. Finches, grouse and cardinals find the flower buds tasty. Several different butterflies use the blue-green leaves as a larval food source. If planted in dense clumps, this multi-stemmed shrub provides good cover and nesting sites for a variety of birds.

Benefits

Provides pollen for native bees
Food source for game and song birds
Host plant for a large variety of butterflies
Provides cover and nest sites for a variety of birds
Host plant for mourning cloak, viceroy moths and butterflies
Cut branches can be forced to flower for winter arrangements

Homeowner Growing and Maintenance Tips

Plant in full sun. Grows well in most soil, including wet, poorly drained areas. Good for low areas where other plants won't live. Will spread by suckers and colonize an area. Can be severely pruned after flowering.


Height
20-25 Feet

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Spread
18-20 Feet

USDA Hardiness Zone 2-7

Native Range

Swamps and other wet, open ground; Newfoundland to Alberta south to Montana, South Dakota, Missouri and Delaware.

Native Trivia

The pussy willow, like all willows, provides a compound called 'salicin' which is similar to the active ingredient in most over-the-counter painkillers. Native North Americans extracted it from the bark and roots for a painkiller and anti-fever medication.


"Grosbeaks, grouse and many species of butterflies find this plant irresistible."

Characteristics & Attributes

Plan Sub Group
Medium to Tall Shrubs
Exposure
Sun
Soil
Wide soil tolerance
Soil Moisture Preference
Average
Moist
Wet
Attracts Wildlife
Beneficial insects
Butterflies
Songbirds
Bloom Time
Early Spring
Winter
Habitat Collection
Butterfly
Songbird
Wet Sun
Native Habitat
Riparian, wetland
Foliage Color
Green
Uses
Accent
Bog, water garden
Erosion control
Hedge, screen
Mass plant
Naturalizes
Native to
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kentucky
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Dakota
Vermont
Virginia
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming