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Dioecious trees, 10-25 m tall, not colonial; branches erect, flexible or somewhat brittle at base; twigs grey- to red-brown, or golden-yellow, densely hairy.
Alternate, simple; narrowly oblong to lance-shaped, 6-12 cm long, 1-2 cm wide, lower surface glaucous, silky to nearly smooth, hairs white, upper surface dull, silky to nearly smooth, margins toothed, base pointed to wedge-shaped, tips pointed to tapering; leaf stalks with glandular dots or lobes at top; stipules leaflike.
Unisexual, lacking sepals and petals, borne in catkins which flower as leaves emerge, the catkins slender, on leafy twigs; floral bracts pale, hairs straight, female bracts deciduous; stamens 2; ovaries 1, smooth; styles 0.16-0.44 mm long.
Capsules which split open to release the seeds, each of which is surrounded by a tuft of hairs; stalks 0.2-0.8 mm long.
Cultivated throughout North America. The most commonly cultivated form of this species, with golden-yellow, erect twigs, is S. alba var. vitellina (L.) Stokes. Plants with golden-yellow, weeping twigs are the hybrid S. x sepulcralis Simonk nothovar. chrysocoma (Dode) Meikle. Pure S. babylonica L. does not occur in BC. Reports of that species are based on S. x sepulcralis Simonk (S. alba x S. babylonica) or S. x pendulina Wenderoth (Salix babylonica x S. fragilis L.). The hybrid with S. fragilis (S. x rubens) is widely cultivated and naturalized in BC. See that hybrid for further comments.
Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia