Plant DetailShow Menu

Salix nigra Salix nigra

Common Name(s):

  • Black Willow
Description

Salix nigra, commonly called black willow, is a medium to large, fast-growing, deciduous willow tree that typically grows to 30-60’ tall on single or multiple trunks topped by a spreading, rounded but sometimes irregular crown. It may soar to as much as 140’ tall in optimum growing conditions. It is native to moist to wet soils of floodplains, stream/river banks, swamps, marshes, sloughs, and ponds in the U. S. from Maine to Minnesota south to Colorado, Texas, and Florida and in Canada from New Brunswick to Manitoba.

The bark of black willow is dark brown to black, developing deep grooves and a rough texture with shaggy scales as it ages. 

Black willow is generally not recommended for use as a specimen in residential landscapes because of its susceptibility to breakage, potential insect/disease problems, need for soils that never dry out, litter problems, shallow spreading root system which may seek out water/sewer pipes, and mature size potential. In the right location, its shallow roots can act as a quality soil binder, providing excellent erosion control.

 

Seasons of Interest: 

  Blooms:  Early spring            Nut/Fruit/Seed:  Summer

 

Members of the Salix genus support the following specialized bees: Andrena (Parandrena) andrenoidesAndrena (Thysandrena) bisalicisAndrena (Tylandrena) erythrogasterAndrena (Andrena) frigidaAndrena (Micrandrena) illinoiensisAndrena (Andrena) macoupinensisAndrena (Trachandrena) mariaeAndrena (Parandrena) nidaAndrena (Micrandrena) nigraeAndrena (Micrandrena) salictariaAndrena (Parandrena) wellesleyana.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Insects that may be a problem include tent caterpillars, willow sawfly, leaf beetles, aphids, and stem/twig borers.  Disease problems include blights, powdery mildew, leaf spots, crown gall, and cankers. Litter from leaves, twigs, and branches cause a lot of maintenance. Shallow roots can clog sewers or drains if trees are sited in improper locations. Wood is soft and weak and tends to crack in wind, ice, or snow. Do not allow soils to dry out.

Cultivars:
Tags:
#weeping#bees#butterflies#birds#pollinators#wildlife plant#native tree#wildlife tree#attracts birds#host plant#wetlands#erosion control#wet sites#flooding#specialized bees#low flammability#fire resistant
Cultivars:
Tags:
#weeping#bees#butterflies#birds#pollinators#wildlife plant#native tree#wildlife tree#attracts birds#host plant#wetlands#erosion control#wet sites#flooding#specialized bees#low flammability#fire resistant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Salix
    Species:
    nigra
    Family:
    Salicaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    North America
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    It is a host plant for the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Mourning Cloak, Eastern Comma, Red-spotted purple, and Viceroy butterflies.  Its buds and catkins are eaten by birds.  It provides excellent leaf season cover for birds in wetland sites.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Enhancement
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Resistant to fire and moderately resistant to damage from deer.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 30 ft. 0 in. - 60 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 30 ft. 0 in. - 60 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Tree
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Weeping
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    High
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full Sun (Direct sunlight 8+ hours a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight (2-4 hrs) for only part of the day
    Soil Drainage:
    Frequent Standing Water
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    24-60 feet
    more than 60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Red/Burgundy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Description:
    Its fruits are reddish-brown capsules. The wood is soft and weak.
  • Flower:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Catkin
    Flower Description:
    Black willow is dioecious (male and female flowers appear on separate trees). Non-showy tiny yellowish-green flowers appear in catkins (both male and female catkins to 2” long) in early spring (late March-April) as the leaves emerge.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Leaf Margin:
    Dentate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The Black willow has narrow, lanceolate, finely toothed, medium to dark green leaves (to 6” long) that taper to elongate tips. Variable fall color is usually an undistinguished greenish-yellow.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Black
    Dark Brown
    Surface/Attachment:
    Ridges
    Bark Description:
    The bark of black willow is dark brown to black, developing deep grooves and a rough texture with shaggy scales as it ages.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Native Garden
    Rain Garden
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Wet Soil
    Problems:
    Messy