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Tea-leaved Willow

Salix phylicifolia

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:
10 metres tall
Ditches, fields, gardens, meadows, mountains, riversides, roadsides, swamps, waterside, wetland.

Yellow, no petals
Short slender catkins. Male and female catkins are both yellow. The female catkins are longer than the males. 2 stamens. Insect pollinated.
A narrowish, downy fruit capsule. The capsules contain numerous seeds.
Narrowly oval, stalked leaves which are pale beneath. The leaves are pointed, hairless and have shallowly toothed margins. Small stipules. Leaves alternate along the stems.
Other Names:
Tea-leaved Salix.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Salix phylicifolia, also known as Tea-leaved Willow or Tea-leaved Salix, is a species of willow tree that is native to Europe and Asia. It is a medium-sized tree that can grow up to 15 meters tall. The tree is known for its narrow leaves that resemble the leaves of a tea plant, and its yellowish-brown bark. The bark of the tree contains salicin, which is used in the production of aspirin. Tea-leaved willow is also used in traditional medicine for various ailments, including fever, pain, and inflammation. It is also a popular ornamental tree, grown for its attractive leaves and bark. It is also used for erosion control, for its ability to stabilize banks and slopes, and for wildlife habitat. It is also used for basketry, for making furniture and for firewood.


Tea-leaved Willow (Salix phylicifolia) is a deciduous shrub or tree native to the Northern Hemisphere. It is commonly known for its medicinal properties and has a long history of use in traditional medicine.

The plant grows to a height of about 5-10 meters, with a trunk that can reach a diameter of 20-30 cm. Its leaves are simple and elongated, with a characteristic shape that resembles a tea-cup. They are green on the upper side and white on the underside, making them easily recognizable.

The Tea-leaved Willow is rich in compounds like salicylic acid and tannins, which give it its unique medicinal properties. In traditional medicine, it was used to treat a range of conditions, including headaches, toothaches, and fevers. In modern medicine, its extracts are still used to reduce pain, inflammation and fever. Additionally, they are also used to manage various skin conditions, including eczema and psoriasis.

The plant is also used in cosmetics and skincare products due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Extracts from the Tea-leaved Willow are used in creams, lotions, and shampoos to provide relief for dry skin and to improve the appearance of aging skin.

The Tea-leaved Willow is a hardy plant that is well adapted to grow in a variety of soils, including heavy clay soils and sandy soils. It prefers moist, well-drained soils and full sun, but it can also grow in partial shade. The plant is also drought-tolerant, making it a good choice for low-maintenance landscapes.

The Tea-leaved Willow is a versatile and useful plant with a long history of medicinal use. Whether you are looking to use it for its medicinal properties or simply to add some greenery to your garden, this plant is definitely worth considering.

In addition to its medicinal and cosmetic uses, the Tea-leaved Willow is also an important food source for wildlife. Its leaves are eaten by various species of moths and caterpillars, while its seeds are a source of food for birds, such as finches and sparrows. The shrub is also a valuable source of nesting material for birds, providing cover and protection from predators.

Another unique feature of the Tea-leaved Willow is its ability to grow in wet and damp conditions, making it a good choice for planting in areas prone to flooding. The roots of the plant are able to absorb excess water, reducing the risk of water damage to surrounding areas. This makes it a popular choice for planting along riverbanks and in wetlands, where it helps to prevent erosion and protect against soil loss.

Despite its numerous benefits, the Tea-leaved Willow can also have some negative effects. For example, the plant is allelopathic, meaning that it releases compounds that can inhibit the growth of other plants growing nearby. It is important to keep this in mind when planting the shrub, and to avoid planting it too close to other sensitive species.

Finally, it's worth mentioning that the Tea-leaved Willow is considered an invasive species in some regions. The plant is capable of spreading rapidly, and its ability to grow in a variety of conditions makes it difficult to control. In areas where it is considered invasive, it is important to take steps to prevent its spread, and to monitor its growth carefully.

The Tea-leaved Willow is a versatile and useful plant that has a range of benefits, including its medicinal and cosmetic uses, its value as a food source for wildlife, and its ability to grow in wet and damp conditions. However, it is also important to consider its allelopathic effects and its potential to become invasive in some regions.

Aside from its ecological and practical benefits, the Tea-leaved Willow also has a cultural significance. In many cultures, the shrub is associated with spiritual and mystical beliefs. For example, in Native American cultures, the willow was seen as a symbol of healing and renewal, and was used in various rituals and ceremonies.

In Chinese medicine, the Tea-leaved Willow has been used for thousands of years to treat various conditions, including headaches, fevers, and menstrual pain. The plant is considered to have a cooling effect on the body, and is often used in combination with other herbs to enhance its healing properties.

In Europe, the Tea-leaved Willow has a long history of medicinal use, with references dating back to the Roman Empire. During the Middle Ages, the plant was used to treat various ailments, including rheumatism and gout. It was also used as a pain reliever and as a treatment for skin conditions.

In addition to its cultural and medicinal significance, the Tea-leaved Willow is also an important source of wood and other materials. The wood of the shrub is strong and flexible, making it ideal for a range of applications, including basketry and furniture making. The bark of the shrub is also rich in tannins, making it useful for the production of dyes and other products.

In conclusion, the Tea-leaved Willow is a fascinating and versatile plant with a rich history and cultural significance. Whether you are interested in its medicinal properties, its ecological benefits, or its cultural significance, this shrub is well worth exploring. Whether you are a gardener, a naturalist, or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of nature, the Tea-leaved Willow is sure to capture your imagination.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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