Salix caprea (Goat Willow)
Other Names: Pussy Willow, Great Sallow
Description: This tree or more usually a shrub is a deciduous, broadleaf species often found in damp area but is also found in dry locations more than any other willow. The bark is grey brown and develops diamond shaped fissures with age. Twigs are hairy at first but become smooth and can appear yellow brown in the sunlight. Unlike other willows the leaves are oval in shape. The flowers which appear in early spring and are called catkins, are yellow white in colour. Once pollinated the seeds become “Fairies” and are dispersed in vast quantities by the wind.
Uses: Goat Willow timber is soft and yellow. Unlike nearly all other willows, its twigs are brittle and are not used for weaving. They make decent fire wood and have been used for making charcoal. Traditionally willows have been used to relieve pain from headaches and toothaches and the drug aspirin is derived from salicin which is found in the bark of all willows.
Conservation Value: The leaves are eaten by the caterpillars of a number of moths and butterflies which I turn provide a food source for many species of bird. The flowers are an early source of nectar for bees.
Preferred Locations: This species prefers moist to semi moist locations on clay, sand and loam soils and thrives in full sun.
Size: Max 10m but often less, especially when coppiced and has a canopy spread of between 1.5 and 2.5m
Time to reach full height: 10 to 20 years
Lifespan: Up to 300 years