Salix vestita - a choice willow

Submitted by Boland on

I grow several native Newfoundland willows in my rockery and at our botanical garden. One of my favourites is S. vestita. This species occurs from Newfoundland through to the Rockies, but our forms are much smaller than those of the west. This little willow is wonderful all year. Here is a potted specimen in our alpine house.


Submitted by Boland on Tue, 02/23/2010 - 06:09

Some details of the foliage, breaking spring buds and even the overwintering buds.

Submitted by Boland on Tue, 02/23/2010 - 16:23

Can't answer that one...heat is NOT an issue in Newfoundland!  However, we have several growing outside in th BG and in some areas, with the reflected heat off the rocks, I expect it gets pretty hot yet they seem fine.  Might be worth a try if you could get your hands on one...THAT will be the trick!  Seeds have no viability.

Submitted by Boland on Sun, 02/06/2011 - 18:34

Welcome Paul!  Most of the dwarf willows are made for cold climates...Aussie would be WAY too warm I expect.

Submitted by cohan on Sat, 02/19/2011 - 20:33

Todd wrote:

Sorry, I meant short my understanding, all willows have short viability.

Presumably why I never see any seed available :( though that doesn't seem to stop vendors from selling Corydalis, Hepatica etc, seed...

Submitted by cohan on Sun, 02/20/2011 - 11:31

Hoy wrote:

Cohan, I can send you some fresh seed when they ripen here if you want ;) Not vestita but others I have pictured.

That would be great, thanks!

Submitted by RickR on Sun, 02/20/2011 - 22:12

Willows purportedly can have REALLY short viability.  I am talking days.  Once I did plant some seeds from a very small form of S. repens, or maybe it was S. myrsinifolia, immediately upon capsule opening.  With 80-90% germination, a few did emerge, but subsequently died.  :(

Submitted by cohan on Mon, 02/21/2011 - 00:26

RickR wrote:

Willows purportedly can have REALLY short viability.  I am talking days.  Once I did plant some seeds from a very small form of S. repens, or maybe it was S. myrsinifolia, immediately upon capsule opening.  With 80-90% germination, a few did emerge, but subsequently died.  :(

Days only would make it tricky :( I suppose one could send capsules just pre-opening and hope for the best, but that involves a lot of luck or good timing on harvesting!

Submitted by Howey on Mon, 02/21/2011 - 06:17

Hi Todd:  Enjoyed viewing your mouth watering pics of Salix vestita and, like probably everyone else on the Forum, covet this plant?  Due to the short viability of the seeds, was thinking of buying a plant of one of those lovely Newfoundland salixes (in particular, Salix boydii, from Harvey Wrightman's Nursery).  He had a few last year but wasn't selling at the time - using them for propagating.  Have actually tried to grow a couple of the dwarf salixes (plants) without success.  Am wondering, with this excessively cold and snow-cover winter, if perhaps they are still lurking under the ground somewhere.  Spring always seems to spring a few surprises - she says hopefully.  Fran
Frances Howey
London Ontario Canada
Zone 5b

Submitted by cohan on Mon, 02/21/2011 - 11:51

Alpines Mont Echo in Quebec seemed to have some interesting Salix (among other things, various Newfoundland plants).. I know Wrightman's and Beavercreek, of course, anyone know any other sources for such East Coast plants?

Submitted by Paul T on Mon, 02/21/2011 - 20:17

Howdy ALl,

With such short viability, is it not usual to send the seed in a damp media to keep them alive?  Or would this not work for Salix?  I'm assuming that the short viability is due to the seed drying out, or is it from some other factors.  Could not the seed be packed in damp vermiculite or damp kitchen paper to keep it viable in transit in the mail?  I realise of course that currently in some areas that would just mean the seed would freeze, but I would assume it would generally work to keep them viable wouldn't it? ???

Submitted by cohan on Tue, 02/22/2011 - 00:50

I was wondering about the same thing, Paul; I suppose it depends on speed of germination--if its fast, they might germinate in transit, which might or might not be ok depending on how long till they can be rescued, and whether the sprouts might get squished.
I haven't yet tried googling on the subject..
Local species seed at various times of year, here, including at least one that seeds in late fall, suggesting seed must last till spring before germinating, much but by no means all of that time below freezing.. Its actually very showy (ok, kind of showy ;D ) at a time when most things are bare, if I recall correctly, will have to dig up some pics...

Submitted by RickR on Tue, 02/22/2011 - 20:31

I'm not sure all willows have that short viability.  Just a generalization.  I am thinking my memory is 75% accurate when I say that the S. repens/myrsinifolia seed emerged (being barely covered and sealed inside a baggie) within several days.

We have a fall blooming native willow species in Minnesota too.  I have only seen it once when the Bog birch (Betula glandulifera) was in fall color, and that was when seed capsules were developing on the willow.  At least then, it was not showy, and the overall plant stature not very garden worthy.

Submitted by cohan on Wed, 02/23/2011 - 00:18

Oddly enough, I didn't think about when these willows are flowering, I know they are fruiting late, and I had not noticed willows flowering in summer or fall, but it could easily be missed when foliage is full..
I've been checking for pics, and I think I should have better shots than these, but I realised how many photos from last year I still have to go through  :o
Anyway, a shot from early Sept, showing a willow with developing fruit, not sure when it would have flowered, and then a couple from October--by which time we have had many and serious frosts, even if there have been warm days between..
You can get the idea that this willow is quite conspicuous in full seed, when most things are bare or rapidly getting there--trees (small multi-stemmed trees or shrubs) covered in seed are visible from long distances, and account for only 1 in dozens or hundreds of other willows..

Submitted by Lori S. on Wed, 02/23/2011 - 06:20

By googling "Salix seed viability", one can find various studies.  After browsing a couple of the articles that come up, it does seem to be that drying of seed occurs very rapidly and beyond a certain point, results in a severe loss of viability.   Here's an interesting one:
In this one, it was found that "humidification", if done before extreme dessication, can restore viability to near fresh state.
That would seem to suggest that moist-packing would preserve seed viability, I think.