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Native Plant of the Week: Pussy Willow

Family: Salicaceae


Name: Salix discolor - Pussy Willow


Bloom Time: March - April


Flower: Silver white


Soil Condition: Average, Moist, Wet, Well Drained


Light: Sun - Partial Shade


Height: 10-20' tall by 8-12' wide


Native Range: North America including Long Island


Zone: 2 - 7

Photos (KMS Native Plants): male catkins, pussy toes, the adorable cellophane bee (one of our earliest native pollinators)


Pussy Willow is a fast-growing shrub. Everyone knows the silver fuzzy 'pussy toe' catkins from March through April. If you are looking to support our early native pollinators, willows are a must-have in the pollinator garden. Make sure to cut some branches and bring them into the house. There's nothing like pussy willow branches to remind us spring is coming.

Maintenance: Cut back every 3-5 years to encourage vigorous new growth. Like all willows, the shallow root systems may clog sewers or drains and make gardening underneath the plants difficult.


Benefits: Nectar source, early pollinators, and specialized bees, host plant to Mourning Cloak and Viceroy, black walnut (juglone) tolerant, tolerates a bit of drought, great for controlling erosion


Fun Facts: Native Americans use this plant for medicinal purposes. It was also used in making rope, baskets, containers, fasteners, cooking tools, and in making netting.


Companion Plants: Myrica pensylvanica - Bayberry, Ilex verticillata - Winterberry, Physocarpus opulifolius - Ninebark


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