PUSSY WILLOW, Salix discolor

February 2011

photo by Fran Gustman

Who doesn’t rembember the pussy willow from childhood, with its irresistble, fuzzy catkin buds? As children, we put pussy willow twigs in the ground, and marveled as they took root. You can find pussy willow twigs for sale in the supermarket in late winter, but you can also find its slender red-brown stems outdoors year-round in wetlands and swampy areas. Pussy willow is a multi-stemmed shrub typically growing to be six to 15 feet tall and four to eight feet wide. Its fuzzy catkins appear in late February and March. Each catkin contains hundreds of tiny yellow flowers. In late winter, pussy willows provide one of the first sites for bees looking for nectar and pollen. Its small seeds are dispersed by the wind, and its catkins are eaten by water fowl. Pussy willow is the favorite nesting site for the American goldfinch. White-tail deer, rabit, and rodents browse on its stems.

More information

US Department of Agriculture

Arbor Day Foundation

Wikipedia