Coyote Willow

Willows can be notoriously difficult to correctly identify, as many species of willow look very similar. The leaves of Coyote Willow are lance shaped and greyish green with silver undersides. It commonly grows on river banks and on open gravel or sand floodplains.

Categories: , ,

Description
Latin Name Salix exigua
Type Shrub
Description Willows can be notoriously difficult to correctly identify, as many species of willow look very similar. The leaves of Coyote Willow are lance shaped and greyish green with silver undersides. It commonly grows on river banks and on open gravel or sand floodplains.
Height and Spread Up to 3 m tall. Up to 2 m spread.
Bloom Colour Green to yellow catkins
Bloom Months Appearing alongside leaves in early spring
Foliage Colour grey-green to silver
Seed Months Seeds are very small, enclosed in a dense thicket of white hairs. Depending on conditions these seeds mature in early summer.
Light and Water Coyote Willows grow in a variety of shady to sunny conditions. The main factor for Coyote Willows is access to fresh water. These shrubs don’t grow in dry conditions.
Ethnobotany Information The bark from Coyote Willow and other related willow species was commonly used by the St’at’imc peoples to make twine or rope by braiding it together. It was also sometimes referred to as ‘match plant,’ due to it being used to make fire drills. All willows also create salicin, a chemical closely related to what we commonly refer to as Aspirin. For this reason many Indigenous peoples used Coyote Willow and other willows prepared in various ways to treat tooth aches, stomach aches, diarrhea, and other pains and sicknesses.
Wildlife Uses Coyote Willow is an important food source for many wildlife species, including beaver, moose, and mule deer. It also provides shelter and habitat for many species of wildlife, while limiting the range of some domestic animals such as cattle.
Garden Uses As Coyote Willow is very hardy and likes water it is useful to plant in wet areas that are otherwise difficult to manage. Even in standing water Coyote Willow will do very well, adding a new dimension to wet parts of a landscaped area with its smooth bark and silver/green leaves.
Facts Most stands of Coyote willow that you see on river banks and along streams are not separate plants, but a single plant connected by a large root system. Due to their ability to spread underground Coyote Willow can become somewhat invasive, but is also a very important plant for stabilizing river and stream banks from erosion.
Propagation Techniques Coyote Willow commonly spreads in the wild through sprouting new shoots from shallow root systems. It can be easily propagated by taking cuttings from the the roots to start new plants.