Salix discolor – Pussy Willow

Published on June 9, 2012 by Casey

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Pussy Willow
Pussy Willow

Silvery flowers, resembling 1″ long bottlebrushes, bloom in late winter. The flowers provide pollen for native bees very early in the season and are conspicuous because they bloom on bare stems, before leaves appear. Finches, grouse and cardinals find the flower buds tasty. Several different butterflies use the blue-green leaves as a larval food source. If planted in dense clumps, this multi-stemmed shrub provides good cover and nesting sites for a variety of birds.

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Benefits

  • Provides pollen for native bees
  • Food source for game and song birds
  • Host plant for a large variety of butterflies
  • Provides cover and nest sites for a variety of birds
  • Cut branches can be forced to flower for winter arrangements

Homeowner Growing and Maintenance Tips

  • Plant in full sun.
  • Grows well in most soil, including wet, poorly drained areas.
  • Good for low areas where other plants won’t live.
  • Will spread by suckers and colonize an area.
  • Can be severely pruned after flowering.

Native Range

Swamps and other wet, open ground; Newfoundland to Alberta south to Montana, South Dakota, Missouri and Delaware.

Native Trivia

The pussy willow, like all willows, provides a compound called ‘salicin’ which is similar to the active ingredient in most over-the-counter painkillers. Native North Americans extracted it from the bark and roots for a painkiller and anti-fever medication.

Characteristics & Attributes

    Plan Sub Group
    • Medium to Tall Shrubs

    Exposure
    • Sun

    Soil
    • Wide soil tolerance

    Soil Moisture Preference
    • Wet
    • Average
    • Moist

    Attracts Wildlife
    • Songbirds
    • Beneficial insects
    • Butterflies

    Bloom Time
    • Winter

    Habitat Collection
    • Butterfly
    • Wet Sun
    • Songbird

Source: abnativeplants

NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com Unabridged
Based on the collective work of NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com, © 2014 Native American Encyclopedia.
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Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE):

NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com, "Salix discolor – Pussy Willow" in NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com Unabridged. Source location: Native American Encyclopedia http://nativeamericanencyclopedia.com/salix-discolor-pussy-willow/. Available: http://nativeamericanencyclopedia.com. Accessed: July 25, 2014.

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@ article {NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com2014,
    title = {NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com Unabridged},
    month = Jul,
    day = 25,
    year = 2014,
    url = {http://nativeamericanencyclopedia.com/salix-discolor-pussy-willow/},
}
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