Northern Ontario Plant Database
Salix planifolia Pursh
En: tealeaf willow, flatleaf willow
Salicaceae (Willow Family)
The Genus Salix: Willows have slender branches with alternate leaves, winter buds have a single bud scale. The small, unisexual flowers lack sepals and petals, and are arranged on erect to pendant catkins (aments). Plants are dioecious, with unisexual male and female flowers borne on separate plants. Male flowers usually have 2 stamens, female flowers have a single pistil; both have a basal nectary and are subtended by a scaly bract, often bearing long silky hairs. The fruit is a small narrow conical to ovoid or pear-shaped capsule, with the top portion prolonged into a narrower beak The capsule splits into 2 halves, with each side curving backward to release the woolly seeds.
General: low to medium, deciduous shrub, to 4 m tall; twigs chestnut brown to reddish- or purplish- brown; finely hairy when young, becoming smooth with maturity (glabrate).
Leaves: Alternate, simple, firm, pinnately-veined, petiolate. Leaf blade elliptic to oblanceolate, 2–7 cm long, 1–2.5 cm wide; dark green and lustrous above, paler and glaucous beneath, with short hairs when young, but soon becoming smooth (glabrate); leaf base tapering (cuneate), apex pointed (acute) to blunt (obtuse); margins entire to barely crenate, turned under slightly (revolute). Petiole 2–10 mm long; stipules present, small, ovate, deciduous.
Flowers: Unisexual, male and female catkins (aments) on different shrubs (plants dioecious); catkins sessile, appearing before the leaves. Male (staminate) catkins 1–4 cm long, 1-1.5 cm wide; female (pistillate) catkins 2–6.5 cm long, to 1.8 cm wide. Bracts brown to black, 1–3 mm long, hairy, persistent.
Fruit: A cluster of ovoid capsules, each 5–7 mm long, bearing short hairs.
Habitat and Range: Cool moist habitats; streambanks, meadows, cedar swamps, bogs, and snow beds. The tealeaf willow, a circumboreal species, occurs throughout northern Ontario, but is rarely found south of 48° N (Soper & Heimburger 1982).
Internet Images: Illustrations of Salix planifolia from the Flora of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Legend: a) vegetative branch, b) female catkin, c) male flower, d) base of male flower with bract removed, showing the nectary; e) female flower.
Charts comparing traits of the 6 common willows found in the northern Ontario FECs.
Similar Species: For further information on willows, see the webpages on Salix bebbiana (beaked willow), Salix discolor (pussy willow), and Salix humilis (upland willow), from the borealforest.org website, or the Salicaceae family webpage on the Aquatic and Wetland Vascular Plants of the Northern Great Plains website, part of the USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center network.
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