by J. Thomas Gebauer, ASLA
Each week TLC brings you one featured native plant to highlight the wonderful, beautiful native plants that are available to us here in Teton County. We choose to highlight natives specifically for the adaptations to this climate, their food value to regional wildlife, decreases the damage done by exotic invasive species and we believe they promote the true natural beauty of this land.
This weeks featured native plant to Teton County is the Salix glauca, or commonly known as the grey willow. This willow is usually a shrub growing up to 1.2 m (3.9 ft) tall, but in appropriate habitat it becomes a tree up to 6 m (20 ft) tall. The smooth gray bark becomes furrowed with age. The species is dioecious, with male and female reproductive parts occurring on separate individuals. The grey willow is a favorite food of winter time foraging animals such as the moose (Alces alces) and constitutes a large part of the diet of the snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus). In thickets gray-leaf willow may provide cover for small animals, but its small stature limits its value as cover for large mammals.
All willows produce salacin, which is closely related chemically to aspirin. Native Americans used various preparations from willow to treat tooth ache, stomach ache, diarrhea, dysentery, and dandruff . Native Americans also used flexible willow stems for making baskets, bows, arrows, scoops, snares, and fish and muskrat traps. (US Forest Service)
This wonderful shrub can be used as an accent against a wall or a rock. It is best used by itself as a specimen planting where it can stand out to show off it’s wonderful foliage, large spring catkins and flowers.
Consider planting in massings this plant if you have land that is easily accessible to wildlife to provide a food source for them.
While most plantings will maintain a relatively small stature, it is important to place this plant in an area that could accomodate a large plant in case the shrub has a happy home and takes off.
Scientific name: Salix glaucaCommon name: Grey willow, grey-leaf willow, glaucous willowDuration: PerennialLife form: Deciduous shrubGrowth form: Multiple stemsGrowth Rate: RapidFire resistance: NoFire tolerance: HighToxicity: NoneDrought tolerance: LowCommercial availability: Routinely AvailablePalatable to browsing animals: HighPalatable to grazing animals: Highmoisture use: LowSoils: All types
Grayleaf willow catkins appear with the leaves. Flowering generally occurs in June, the fruits ripen in July and August, and the seeds are dispersed in late August and September
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“The best friend on earth of man is the tree: when we use the tree respectfully and economically we have one of the greatest resources of the earth.”
– Frank Lloyd Wright