Comprehensive DescriptionRead full entry
DescriptionThis tree is 40-65' tall at maturity, forming either a single trunk about 1½-3' across or developing multiple trunks. The crown is relatively open and irregular. On older trees, trunk bark is gray and rough-textured from coarse irregular furrows, while on young trees it is greenish yellow to golden brown and relatively smooth. Branches and twigs are greenish yellow, golden yellow, or golden brown, while young shoots are light green; the twigs and shoots are relatively slender and flexible. Alternate leaves about 2-4½" long and ¼-¾" across occur along the twigs and shoots; they are narrowly elliptic or narrowly lanceolate in shape and finely serrated along their margins. The upper surface of mature leaves is medium green and glabrous, while the lower surface is somewhat whitened, glabrous, and glaucous. Young leaves are yellowish green and they may have a few fine silky hairs. The narrow petioles are pale yellowish green and up to ½" long. At the bases of these petioles, pairs of stipules are either absent or early-deciduous. Golden Willow is dioecious, producing male (staminate) flowers and female (pistillate) flowers on separate trees. These flowers are arranged in narrowly cylindrical catkins about 1-2½" long; the catkins occur on short side shoots up to ¾" long that have 1-2 small leaves. Each male flower consists of 2 stamens (rarely 3) with yellow anthers. The filaments of the stamens are hairy below the middle and hairless above. Each female flower consists of a glabrous ovary on a short pedicel (about 1-2 mm. in length) with a pair of stigmata above. The green ovary is lanceoloid-pyriform in shape and 3-5 mm. in length. At the base of each flower (whether male or female), there is a yellow floral bract that is short-oblong in shape and hairy. The blooming period usually occurs from mid- to late spring for about 1-2 weeks. Female flowers become mature seed capsules about a month later, when they turn brown and split open to release their tiny seeds. These seeds are embedded in fine cottony hairs and they are distributed by the wind. The woody root system is abundantly branched and widely spreading.