Shinning willow is a full sized tree reaching 2ft in trunk diameter but shrub sized at higher elevations. It Dominates many small willow shrublands across North America, growing with other willows and poplars. Habitats include sandbars, gravel, sandy or silty soils where the shinning willow can establish just after initially colonizing plants.
Bark is smooth when young and shallow in thickness. Young growth is red and hairy, becoming smooth and green with age; the twigs being relatively stout. As the tree matures, its bark becomes darker and vertically ridged. Leaves are lance shaped and very finely toothed; older leaves are smooth. Two or more glands at the leaf base are an identifying feature of the species. Male and female catkins are long and thick. The females produce light, fluffy seeds, dispersed by wind or water.
Shinning willow is planted for erosion control to stabilize river banks and is a food source for beaver, deer, and elk. Used by Native Americans, and like all willows, the twigs produce salacitic acid (asprin) which can be used for medicine.
A key characteristic may be needed to help decipher this species. Salix sessilifolia (Soft-leaved wilow) or Salix rigida (yellow willow) are similar in appearance, but lack the leaf base glands present in Salix lucida.
Fryer, J. (2015). Salix lucida, shining willow. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/tree/salluc/all.html [2020, October 19].
Labbe, J. (1998). Salix lucida (ssp. lasiandra) - Pacific Willow. Retrieved from http://web.pdx.edu/~maserj/ESR410/SalixLucida.htm
Plants For A Future. (n.d.). Salix lucida - Muhl. Retrieved from https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Salix+lucida
United States Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). Salix lucida Muhl. shining willow. Retrieved from https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=SALU