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Common Shrub Species of the Northwest Forest

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HERBS

GRAMINOIDS

FERNS & FERN-ALLIES

BROPHYTES & LICHENS

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Terminology | Pictorial

   
Salix discolor
Pussy Willow
Salicaceae (Willow Family)

Pussy Willow Description

General - a shrub or small tree to 6 m tall; twigs reddish-brown to dark brown, dull, glabrous to slightly pubescent, rarely densely pubescent; branchlets spreading, yellowish-brown to nearly black, tomentulose, often glabrous with age.

Leaves - alternate; elliptical, bright to dark green above, pale to white-glaucous beneath, 3-10 cm long, 1-3 cm wide, sometimes deeply lobed.

Flowers - borne on catkins; male and female catkins on separate plants; appearing and maturing before the leaves late May to early June.

Fruit - long-beaked capsules 7-12 mm long, on the female catkins, finely pubescent; stipes 1.5-4 mm long; maturing in June.

Habitat

Swamps, fens, stream banks, floodplains, marsh borders, ditches and other wet habitat throughout NW Ontario's boreal region.

Notes

The Pussy Willow, as all willows, provides a compound called 'salicin' which is similar to the active ingredient in most over-the-counter painkillers. Native North Americans have extracted it from the bark and roots for a painkiller and anti-fever medication.



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