Missouri River Willow

Missouri River Willow
Matt Lavin from Bozeman, Montana, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Botanical Name: Salix eriocephala
Other Names: Missouri willow, Cottony Willow, Heartleaf Willow
Family: Salicaceae Native to: Eastern North America, Interior North America
Hardy to zone: 5
Eco benefits: attracts pollinators, water filtration, erosion control
Natural habitat: swamps & bogs, waters edge, floodplains, dunes
Shapes: clump
Height: 7-13ft
Growth rate: medium
Common uses: naturalized plantings
Light: full sun, partial shade
Transplanting: easy
Soil: moist and fertile, well drained, tolerates heavy clay, wet, sandy
Reproduction type: dioecious

The Missouri river willow is a shrub 7 to 13 feet tall, native to dunes, shores and lowlands of Eastern to Central North America. The young, unfolding leaves are copper coloured to red. Mature leaves are lance-shaped with a round to heart-shaped base. Leaf colour is green above and whiteish below with finely toothed margins. The flower catkins appear in April at the same time or slightly before the leaves and are pollinated by many insects especially bees and flies. Missouri river willow tolerates strong winds but not seaside, and is shade intolerant.

Missouri River Willow leaves
Matt Lavin from Bozeman, Montana, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

taxonomy for this willow has been uncertain and everchanging. It is closely related to and often confused with Salix rigida (Heart-Leaved Willow), and Salix glaucophylloides (Blue-Leaf Willow). Willows sometimes hybridize, making identification even more confusing.

Missouri River Willow flowers
Matt Lavin, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Plants For A Future. (n.d.). Salix eriocephala - Michx.. Retrieved from https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Salix+eriocephala

Nature Serve Explorer. (2020). Salix eriocephala Heartleaf Willow. Retrieved from https://explorer.natureserve.org/Taxon/ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.129982/Salix_eriocephala

Tree Canada. (n.d.). Heartleaf willow (Salix eriocephala). Retrieved from https://treecanada.ca/resources/trees-of-canada/heartleaf-willow-salix-eriocephala/

University of Michigan Herbarium. (n.d.). Salix eriocephala Michx. Retrieved from https://michiganflora.net/species.aspx?id=2626

Wisconsin State Herbarium. (n.d.). Salix eriocephala Michx. retrieved from http://wisflora.herbarium.wisc.edu/taxa/index.php?taxon=4949