This native shrub is about 6-20' tall, forming single or multiple trunks. Most branches are erect to ascending and little-branched. An older shrub forms a gray-brown bark near the base that is slightly rough and fissured, while the bark of upper branches and twigs is reddish brown to brown and smooth. Actively growing stems are yellowish green to light green and either smooth, slightly pubescent, or densely pubescent (rarely the latter). The alternate leaves of these stems are up to 4" long and 1½" across; they are ovate to narrowly ovate in shape and irregularly crenate-serrate to nearly smooth along their margins. The upper leaf surfaces are medium to dark green and hairless, while their lower surfaces are hairless, glaucous, and whitened. Shrubs with pubescent leaf undersides are probably hybrids. The slender petioles are up to ¾" long and usually slightly pubescent. At the base of some petioles (particularly for vigorously growing shoots), there is a pair of large stipules up to ¼" long and across; these stipules are somewhat cordate in shape and either crenate-serrate or deeply lobed. On second-year twigs, catkins of either male or female florets develop from sessile scales. Pussy Willow is dioecious, with either all male or all female florets on separate shrubs. As the male catkins begin to open, they are covered with dense hairs that are silky gray. Shortly later, they become larger in size (about 1" long) and yellowish in appearance from many stamens. Each male catkin consists of a dense mass of male florets; each floret has 2 stamens. The female catkins are spike-like racemes of female florets; these greenish catkins are 1-4" long at maturity. Each female floret consists of a pistil with a pair of tiny stigmata at its apex; the pistil is narrowly lanceoloid and canescent. The blooming period occurs from early to mid-spring for about 2 weeks. The female florets are replaced by seed capsules about 1/3" long. During the summer, these capsules split open to release tiny seeds with cottony hairs. These seeds are distributed by wind or water. The root system is woody and branching.