Salix polaris Wahlenb.
polar willow
Salicaceae (Willow family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants


© Hans Roemer     (Photo ID #22999)


E-Flora BC Static Map

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

Species Information

Dwarf shrubs, 1-9 cm tall, forming rhizomatous mats; branches erect, flexible at base, weakly to strongly glaucous; twigs brownish, smooth.
Alternate, simple, elliptic to egg-shaped or nearly circular, 0.5-3.2 cm long, 0.8-1.8 cm wide, lower surface not glaucous, smooth or hairy, hairs white; upper surface shiny, smooth, margins entire, bases and tips pointed to rounded; leaf stalks without glandular dots at top; stipules absent or rudimentary.
Unisexual, lacking sepals and petals, borne in catkins which flower as leaves emerge, the catkins stout, on leafy twigs; floral bracts dark, smooth or hairy, hairs straight or wavy; stamens 2; ovaries 1, hairy; styles 0.7-1.6 mm long.
Capsules which split open to release the seeds, each of which is surrounded by a tuft of hairs; stalks 0.2-0.7 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 polaris

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)
1691 5 2440
Slope Gradient (%)
15 0 300

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

70 0 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
3 0 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

BAFA(280), ESSF(21), IMA(3), MH(1), SWB(13)

Habitat and Range

Moist late snowbed and snowflush areas and scree slopes in the upper subalpine and alpine zones; common in N BC; circumpolar, N to AK, YT and NT.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Synonyms and Alternate Names:
Salix polaris subsp. pseudopolaris (Flod.) Hult╬śn
Salix polaris var. glabrata HultTn
Salix polaris var. selwynensis Raup
Salix pseudopolaris Flod.