E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Salix arctica Pall.
arctic willow
Salicaceae (Willow family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Adolf Ceska  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #5562)

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Distribution of Salix arctica
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Species Information

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Dwarf shrubs, 3-25 (50) cm tall, layering; branches decumbent, trailing or ascending, flexible at base, sometimes strongly glaucous; twigs yellow-brown to violet, smooth.
Alternate, simple, narrowly to broadly elliptic or narrowly to broadly egg-shaped, 1-8.5 cm long, 0.5-6 cm wide, lower surface glaucous, sparsely long soft-hairy or with a silky beard at tip, hairs white, upper surface shiny or dull, smooth or sparsely long soft-hairy near margin, margins entire, bases and tips pointed to rounded; leaf stalks without glandular dots at top; stipules absent, rudimentary, or, if leaflike, soon deciduous.
Capsules which split open to release the seeds, each of which is surrounded by a tuft of hairs; stalks 0.2-1.6 mm long.
The southern Rocky Mountain species, S. petrophila Rydb. has been segregated out of S. arctica in this treatment.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Mesic to dry meadows, slopes, ridges, heath and thickets in the subalpine and alpine zones; common to infrequent in mountains of BC except the Queen Charlotte Islands; circumpolar, N to AK, YT and NT, E to NF, S to MT, ID and OR; N Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Salix arctica

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 7 1862 2610
Slope Gradient (%) 0 21 92
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 163 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 3 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: AT(45), BAFA(133), BWBS(2), ESSF(164), IMA(16), MH(19), SWB(15)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Salix anglorum auct. non Cham.
Salix anglorum var. antiplasta Schneid.
Salix anglorum var. araioclada Schneid.
Salix anglorum var. kophophylla Schneid.
Salix arctica subsp. crassijulis (Trautv.) Skvort.
Salix arctica subsp. tortulosa (Trautv.) Hult╬śn
Salix arctica var. antiplasta (C.K. Schneid.) Fernald
Salix arctica var. araioclada (C.K. Schneid.) Raup
Salix arctica var. brownei Andersson
Salix arctica var. kophophylla (C.K. Schneid.) Polunin
Salix arctica var. pallasii (Andersson) Kurtz
Salix arctica var. tortulosa (Trautv.) Raup
Salix brownei (Anderss.) Bebb
Salix crassijulis Trautv.
Salix hudsonensis C.K. Schneid.
Salix pallasii Anderss.
Salix pallasii var. crassijulis (Trautv.) Anderss.
Salix tortulosa Trautv.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References