White Willow Overview
Salix alba is a deciduous, broadleaf, medium-large tree species commonly known as the White Willow after the white colouration of the underside of the leaves. It is a quick-growing tree species, however they can be short-lived due to disease susceptibility. This species resides in the willow family, Salicaceae and ranges across Europe, including the UK where it is native, to Western and Central Asia. It grows to between 10-30m in height, dependent on the conditions, the trunk typically reaches a metre in diameter and the crown of this species is often irregular and leaning. Bark is grey-brown in colour and develops a deeply ridged, textured appearance with age. This species has pale foliage compared to other willows, the leaves measure between 5-10cm in length and they are covered in silky white hairs, these are particularly prominent on the underside of leaves. New shoots are coloured green to grey-brown and the branches are slender. Flowers are produced in catkin structures, these are thin, cylindrical clusters of flowers with discrete or no petals. They are adapted for dispersal by wind or insects and are usually seen in dioecious species, which produce male and female flowers on individual plants. Male catkins measure 4-5cm in length and female catkins are slightly smaller and narrower at 3-4cm long, both male and female structures lengthen with fruit maturation. The flowers appear from early spring and in this species are pollinated by insects.