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Rusty Willow

Salix cinerea oleifolia

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Salicaceae (Willow)
Deciduous shrub
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
5 metres tall
Bogs, hedgerows, marshes, wasteland, waterside, wetland, woodland.

Silver, no petals
The male catkins are silver and round. The female catkins are green. The male and female catkins are borne on separate trees. Yellow pollen. Pollinated by bees.
The female catkins turn into seeds. The seeds mature in May and June.
Simple, narrowly oval leaves, soft to the touch. The young twigs are yellow and red and densely hairy at first. Similar looking to Grey Willow (Salix cinerea) but usually taller. The leaves differ in that they have rusty-coloured hairs on their undersides. The leaves alternate along the stems.
Other Names:
Common Willow, Grey Sallow, Grey Willow, Pussy Willow, Rusty Sallow.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Salix cinerea subsp. oleifolia, commonly known as grey willow, is a species of willow native to Europe and western Asia. It is a deciduous shrub or small tree growing up to 16 feet (5 meters) tall. Its bark is grey and fissured in diamond patterns and its leaves are narrow and oval, with a dull green color. It is common in damp places, such as near streams, bogs, and marshes, and it is often used for wetland restoration. Salix cinerea subsp. oleifolia can also be used as a source of firewood, and its bark has medicinal uses.


Rusty Willow, also known as Salix cinerea oleifolia, is a species of willow tree that belongs to the Salicaceae family. It is native to Europe and Asia and is widely cultivated in temperate regions around the world. This species of willow is known for its fast growth, attractive foliage, and versatility in a variety of landscapes.


Rusty Willow is a deciduous tree that can grow up to 15 meters in height and has a spread of about 10 meters. The trunk is slender and the branches are flexible and pendulous. The leaves are elongated and narrow with a silvery-gray appearance on the undersides, hence the name "Rusty Willow". In the spring, the tree produces tiny yellow flowers that bloom before the leaves emerge.


Rusty Willow is a very adaptable tree that can grow in a wide range of soil types, from clay to sand. It prefers moist soils and can tolerate seasonal flooding, making it a good choice for landscaping near water bodies. The tree also has a high tolerance for wind and salt, making it a good choice for coastal areas. Rusty Willow is also very hardy and can withstand cold temperatures as low as -30°C.


Rusty Willow is a very versatile tree that has a number of uses. It is often used in landscaping and can be planted as a single specimen or in groves. The tree is also used in erosion control and as a windbreak. Rusty Willow is also popular for use in basketry and for making furniture, such as chairs and chests. In addition, the tree's flexible branches are often used for weaving wreaths and baskets.

Pests and Diseases

Like any other tree, Rusty Willow is susceptible to certain pests and diseases. Some common pests that attack this species include the willow sawfly, willow beetle, and willow gall mite. Diseases such as willow rust and willow wilt can also affect the tree. However, with proper care and maintenance, the damage caused by these pests and diseases can be minimized. Regularly inspecting the tree for any signs of infestation or disease and taking timely action is the best way to ensure its health and longevity.


Rusty Willow is easily propagated through cuttings, which can be taken in the summer or early fall and planted directly in the soil. The tree can also be grown from seed, although this method is less common. Once the tree is established, it will grow quickly and can be pruned to shape as desired.

Landscape Design

Rusty Willow is a great choice for a variety of landscape designs. Its pendulous branches and silvery-gray foliage make it a great accent tree for any garden or park. The tree can be planted as a specimen, or in groves for a more natural look. When planted near water bodies, Rusty Willow provides excellent erosion control and helps to stabilize the shoreline. The tree also makes a great privacy screen, especially when planted in a row.

In conclusion, Rusty Willow is a beautiful and versatile tree that can be used in a variety of landscape designs. Its fast growth, attractive foliage, and tolerance for a wide range of soil types and temperatures make it a great choice for homeowners and landscapers alike. With proper care and maintenance, Rusty Willow will provide a lifetime of beauty and grace to any landscape.

Environmental Benefits

In addition to its aesthetic benefits, Rusty Willow also provides a number of environmental benefits. As a deciduous tree, it helps to regulate the local climate by providing shade in the summer and allowing sunlight to penetrate in the winter. This can help to reduce energy costs for nearby buildings.

The tree also provides habitat for wildlife, including birds, insects, and small mammals. Rusty Willow is a popular choice for wildlife habitat because it provides food, shelter, and nesting sites. The tree's leaves and branches serve as a food source for many species, while the hollow branches provide nesting sites.

The tree's deep root system also helps to prevent soil erosion and can help to reduce the impact of heavy rains and floods. The roots absorb water and help to prevent runoff, which can cause damage to nearby properties.

Finally, Rusty Willow is also a great choice for carbon sequestration. The tree absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and stores it in its biomass, which can help to reduce the overall level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This is particularly important in the fight against climate change.

In conclusion, Rusty Willow is not only a beautiful and versatile tree, but it also provides a number of important environmental benefits. From regulating the local climate to providing habitat for wildlife and helping to reduce soil erosion, Rusty Willow is a tree that should be considered for any landscape design.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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