The willows (genus Salix) are a hardy group of trees that do well when they get the water they need. In nature, the best place to look, willow trees and shrubs always grow in areas where they can easily reach the water. River edges, low lying wet areas and surrounding bog and swamp are the places they love.

I recommend that willow trees be planted only in a good-sized property, and then centrally. They can in time get huge and grow into all your neighbors' yards. I remember one giant laurel leaf that was a huge umbrella in a back yard, with a four-foot wide trunk and multiple trunks that grew to fifty feet high and sixty feet wide and it's still growing. That tree is about fifty years old.

The laurel leaf willow, Salix pentandra, has been partially described above. It has deep jade green shiny leaves that are very attractive, and deep furrowed bark.

The gold willow, Salix alba ‘Vitellina’, is a distinctive tree, with its yellow/orange bark. It is a winter stand-out. Not as large as the laurel leaf, it is better for a residential setting.

An uncommon willow here is the silver willow, Salix alba 'Sericea'. Similar in form to the gold, its pewter colored leaves are very beautiful to see.

If pussy willows are your favorite, the daphne willow, Salix daphnoides, might be a good tree for you. Its large grey male flowers are kitten paw sized, smooth barked, smaller than the other willows.

An older variety is called white willow, Salix alba. This can grow to be a weak-wooded giant, not appropriate for residential settings.

If you plant a willow, know that you have a tree that needs regular watering; they do not grow near water sources in nature by chance.

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