Salix discolor Muhl.
pussy willow
Salicaceae (Willow family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants


© Jamie Fenneman     (Photo ID #29957)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Salix discolor
Click here to view the full interactive map and legend


This is a deciduous species of wetland shrub.

Species Information

Dioecious shrubs, 2-6 m tall, not colonial; branches erect, flexible at base; twigs red-brown to yellowish, hairy or smooth.
Alternate, simple, narrowly elliptic to egg-shaped, 3-14 cm long, 1-3.5 cm wide, lower surface glaucous, sparsely long soft-hairy to nearly smooth, hairs white and rust-coloured, upper surface dull or shiny, sparsely long soft-hairy to nearly smooth, margins entire to toothed, bases rounded to wedge-shaped, tips pointed; leaf stalks without glandular dots at top; stipules leaflike or rudimentary.
Unisexual, lacking sepals and petals, borne in catkins which flower before leaves emerge, the catkins stout, unstalked; floral bracts dark, hairs straight; stamens 2; ovaries 1, hairy; styles 0.3-1 mm long.
Capsules which split open to release the seeds, each of which is surrounded by a tuft of hairs; stalks 2-2.7 mm long.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


If more than one illustration is available for a species (e.g., separate illustrations were provided for two subspecies) then links to the separate images will be provided below. Note that individual subspecies or varietal illustrations are not always available.

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Source:  The USDA


Ecological Framework for Salix discolor

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)
904 350 1759
Slope Gradient (%)
7 0 85

Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]

102 4 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
4 1 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
# of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class

All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in

BG(6), BWBS(19), ESSF(10), ICH(12), IDF(8), MS(9), SBPS(12), SBS(79)

Habitat and Range

Wet to moist thickets, swamps, fens, shores, streambanks, clearings and open forests in the montane zone; common throughout BC except NW BC; N to W NT, E to NF and S to NY, NC, IN, MO, SD and WY.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Synonyms and Alternate Names:
Salix ancorifera Fern.
Salix conformis Forbes
Salix crassa Barratt
Salix discolor var. overi Ball
Salix discolor var. prinoides (Pursh) Anderss.
Salix discolor var. rigidior (Anderss.) Schneid.
Salix fuscata Pursh
Salix prinoides Pursh
Salix sensitiva Barratt
Salix squamata Rydb.