Friday, March 11, 2011

Goat Willow

[photo taken 3-22-10, the week after we moved in.]

This slender dooryard tree has intrigued us ever since our arrival.
J.M. was able to name the shrubs and plants unfamiliar to us, all but this one.
As it produced these silky grey "kittens" followed by yellow-furred catkins, we have referred to it as the pussy willow tree.
Today the grey pusskins were again in evidence against the blue sky.
On a whim, as I do like to know the proper names for plants, I typed "pussy willow tree" into the google search engine.
J. is quite pleased to learn that he has been calling it by its familiar name.
The proper name is salix caprea or goat willow.
In Europe the plant is known as "sallow."

This is not the common pussywillow which is naturalized at the edges of marsh land or low wet places in New England.  That familiar shrub is salix discolor.
My father knew where the pussywillows grew and brought home the first of them, still in their tight red-brown scaly buds.  Put in a vase without water they stood on the dining room buffet for weeks, until displaced by summer flowers.
Placed in water the grey pussies quickly became catlets shedding their yellow pollen.

[Tree swallow in residence in salix caprea, May 21, 2010.]

Here is our goat willow--probably planted by the late Mrs. Rogers as an ornamental.
I enjoyed the time spent in learning more about this tree and its relatives....more tidbits of information to tumble into the rag-bag mind.


  1. Pussy Willows! I love them! They had some in the grocery store last week, and I was about to buy some -- until I saw the price tag. Spring really is on the way. It always surprises me how fast it comes. All kinds of things must have been going on during the winter when we thought every thing was asleep.

  2. What a neat tree to have blooming right near your homes entrance. Nice little lesson too. I always think pussy willows are neat little bits of nature.

    Have a great weekend ~ FlowerLady

  3. Love pussy willows, can't seem to grow them here.
    What a great name, goat willow,

    Loved the birdhouse picture.

  4. I've never heard of the goat willow - thanks for the interesting information.

  5. I haven't found the pussy willows in Maine, where we live. I enjoyed their entrance when we lived in VT. I guess towns aren't too condusive to pussy willow terrain. I always feel a little snarky when I wee them in the supermarkets - one needs to FIND them,not buy them.

  6. I think the photograph of the sweet bird and the birdhouse would be great framed! Hope you have a great weekend.


  7. I love Pussy Willows ...quite common when I lived in England ....loved to see them when I was a child as the cattails appeared.

  8. We have a very large tree at the field that we thought was a goat willow, but the leaves look very slightly different to yours. I'll have to go and look at it some more. I'm like you, I need to know what exactly is growing around me :D