Black pussy willow

Submitted by Boland on Tue, 05/03/2011 - 17:32

Too bizarre! Got this acouple of years ago and now its blooming! Salix gracilistylus 'Melanostachys'


Submitted by Hoy on Wed, 05/04/2011 - 11:50

If not a beauty, it is very special. Does it get big, Todd?

Submitted by RickR on Wed, 05/04/2011 - 12:55

I have grown this species since 2001.  Minneapolis, Minnesota seems to be about the coldest reach of its adaptability.  I never get twig die back, but most years there are 1-3 catkin (flower) buds that never open on the ends of the twigs.  mine is a male clone, and the stamens turn from red to yellow (or is in yellow to red?) as they age.  With the black catkin background, it is quite a nice display.  It is mildly susceptible to a canker disease here.

There seems to be some confusion as to whether the willow is cultivar Melanostachys or variety melanostachys.  Many years ago, I came to the conclusion (I don't remember why) that it was a cultivar.  Since then, I bought Christopher Newsholme's book Willows, where he lists it as a variety.

As willows go, this one is not very vigorous for me.  I have never needed to cut it back to contain its size.  At the U of Wisconsin arboretum in Madison (zone 5) I have seen it as a shrub about 8 ft, but from the look of it I suspect it will grow higher.

Salix gracilistylis var. melanostachys


Submitted by Hoy on Wed, 05/04/2011 - 13:18

It is a beauty though, Rick!
I have never seen it for sale here - but I have to admit that I usually don't look twice on Salix in the nurseries.

Submitted by Barstow on Thu, 05/05/2011 - 01:55

This is one I've seen and taken a fancy to several times in the UK and Southern Sweden (near Malmo). I was given a cutting once, but it didn't make it...

Submitted by Boland on Thu, 05/05/2011 - 16:22

The parent plant of my black willow is still only 4 feet.  I expect even tall ones could be copiced to keep them in bounds.

Submitted by cohan on Wed, 05/11/2011 - 14:08

I've seen these on SRGCF.. interesting for sure!