Salix

Salix alba var. sericea 'Sibirica' - silver willow cult. ‘Sibirica’

The silver willows cultivated in Finland are very similar to each other and probably of Russian origin. This cultivar is a beautiful slender tree with weeping branches whose flowers swarm with bees in the spring. It has been popular in gardens because of the attractive silvery foliage; as the trunk thickens with age the vertical furrows and colour are also decorative. The tree is particularly attractive as it reaches maturity and the shoots of the large branches start to take on weeping form. From autumn to spring the bark of the crown’s leafless branches are glowing shades of red.

Salix × fragilis nothovar. basfordiana - golden willow ’Basfordiana’

There is a large group of crosses between white willow (S. alba) and crack willow (S. euxina), of which golden willow ‘Basfordiana’ is one, distinguishable from the rest of the group mainly by its yellow-orange branches. The colour is at its brightest in late winter/early spring in the youngest branches, one of the reasons for cutting back hard, producing strongly coloured suckers. If allowed to grow freely golden willow can achieve heights of 25m (80 ft.) with a trunk a metre in diameter.

Salix × fragilis - hybrid crack willow

This very variable crack willow hybrid is a cross between white willow (S.alba) and crack willow (S. euxina) over many generations, and back-crossings with the parent species. Individual trees vary in habit, in height, in the colour of their shoots and in the shape of their leaves. In fertile moist places they grow into large broad-crowned trees in some ways resembling the oil trees of southern lands.

Salix caprea subsp. caprea - goat willow, pussy willow, sallow

The goat willow is one of the most widespread woody species throughout Eurasia: its natural range extends from the Atlantic coast via the cold northern seas to the Pacific coast. Male and female flowers are produced on separate trees and early in spring the male trees can easily be distinguished at the forest edge from the yellow glow of their flowering. They are an important source of food for bees awakening from their winter dormancy.

Salix × sepulcralis 'Öresund' - weeping willow ’Öresund’

This weeping willow was found in the wild in at Öresund, southern Sweden, with long narrow leaves and a beautiful weeping habit from which the common name derives. The reddish to yellowish colour of the branches intensifies during the winter, making it showy even after leaf fall.

The yellow of the branches resembles that of the well-know weeping variety ’Chrysocoma’, from which ‘Öresund’ is thought to have originated. ‘Öresund’ is a female tree, however, and is considered hardier than its (probable) parent.

Salix × pendulina 'Blanda' - weeping willow ’Blanda’

Genuine weeping willows, which have achieved almost mythical status, are unfortunately too frost-tender to be grown in Finland. However, when crossed with hardier species there is some chance of success. Of the hybrids tested at Mustila in the first years of this millennium, the most successful has been – surprisingly - a variety named ‘Blanda’, apparently a cross between crack willow (S. euxina) and Babylon weeping willow (S. babylonica), brought to Finland from Denmark by the willows enthusiast Tapani Uronen in 2003.