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Plant Description


Salix planifolia Pursh

En: flatleaf willow, tealeaf willow
Fr: saule à feuilles planes

Salicaceae (Willow Family)



The Genus Salix: Willows have slender branches with alternate leaves, winter buds have a single bud scale. The small, unisexual flowers lack sepals and petals, and are arranged on erect to pendant catkins (aments). Plants are dioecious, with unisexual male and female flowers borne on separate plants. Male flowers usually have 2 stamens, female flowers have a single pistil; both have a basal nectary and are subtended by a scaly bract, often bearing long silky hairs. The fruit is a small narrow conical to ovoid or pear-shaped capsule, with the top portion prolonged into a narrower beak The capsule splits into 2 halves, with each side curving backward to release the woolly seeds.

General: low to medium, deciduous shrub, to 4 m tall; twigs chestnut brown to reddish- or purplish- brown; finely hairy when young, becoming smooth with maturity (glabrate).

Leaves: Alternate, simple, firm, pinnately-veined, petiolate. Leaf blade elliptic to oblanceolate, 2–7 cm long, 1–2.5 cm wide; dark green and lustrous above, paler and glaucous beneath, with short hairs when young, but soon becoming smooth (glabrate); leaf base tapering (cuneate), apex pointed (acute) to blunt (obtuse); margins entire to barely crenate, turned under slightly (revolute). Petiole 2–10 mm long; stipules present, small, ovate, deciduous.

Flowers: Unisexual, male and female catkins (aments) on different shrubs (plants dioecious); catkins sessile, appearing before the leaves. Male (staminate) catkins 1–4 cm long, 1-1.5 cm wide; female (pistillate) catkins 2–6.5 cm long, to 1.8 cm wide. Bracts brown to black, 1–3 mm long, hairy, persistent.

Fruit: A cluster of ovoid capsules, each 5–7 mm long, bearing short hairs.

Habitat and Range: Cool moist habitats; streambanks, meadows, cedar swamps, bogs, and snow beds. The tealeaf willow, a circumboreal species, occurs throughout northern Ontario, but is rarely found south of 48° N (Soper & Heimburger 1982).

Internet Images: Illustrations of Salix planifolia from the Flora of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Legend: a) vegetative branch, b) female catkin, c) male flower, d) base of male flower with bract removed, showing the nectary; e) female flower.

Charts comparing traits of the 6 common willows found in the northern Ontario FECs.



Salix humilis
(upland willow)

Salix pedicellaris
(bog willow)

Salix petiolaris
(slender willow)

leaf shape

oblanceolate to obovate, 3–10 cm long

narrow elliptic-oblong to oblanceolate, 2–5 cm long

linear-lanceolate to oblanceolate, 2–7 cm long

leaf margins

entire to barely crenate, + revolute

entire, slightly revolute

finely serrate, sometimes entire

lower leaf surface

gray-pubescent

glaucous

glaucous

stipules present or absent

present, deciduous

absent

absent

capsule shape & size

ovoid, long beaked, 6–9 mm long

narrow-conical, 6–8 mm long

narrow, long-beaked, 5–7 mm long

capsule pubescent or glabrous

gray-pubescent

glabrous

silvery- pubescent

catkin scales

pale

yellowish

yellowish-brown






Salix planifolia
(tealeaf willow)

Salix discolor
(pussy willow)

Salix bebbiana
(beaked willow)

leaf shape

elliptic to oblanceolate, 2–7 cm long

elliptic to oblanceolate, 3–10 cm long

elliptic, oblong, oblanceolate, 3–10 cm long

leaf margins

entire to barely crenate, + revolute

crenate to serrate

variable; entire, crenate, or serrate

lower leaf surface

early rusty pubescence, later glaucous

early rusty pubescence, later glaucous

gray-pubescent, often glabrate, then glaucous

stipules present or absent

present, deciduous

present, somewhat persistent

absent or small, deciduous

capsule shape & size

ovoid, short beaked, 5–7 mm long

narrow, long-beaked, 7–12 mm long

narrow, long-beaked, 7–10 mm long

capsule pubescent or glabrous

short-pubescent with fine, silky hairs

short-pubescent with fine, soft hairs

gray-pubescent

catkin scales

brown to black

brown to black

greenish-yellow, red-tipped




Similar Species: For further information on willows, see the webpages on Salix bebbiana (beaked willow), Salix discolor (pussy willow), and Salix humilis (upland willow), from the borealforest.org website, or the Salicaceae family webpage on the Aquatic and Wetland Vascular Plants of the Northern Great Plains website, part of the USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center network.

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