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

Salix melanopsis Nutt.
dusky willow (dark sandbar willow)
Salicaceae (Willow family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jamie Fenneman  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #20457)

E-Flora BC Static Map
Distribution of Salix melanopsis
Click here to view our interactive map and legend
Details about map content are available here
Click on the map dots to view record details.

Species Information

Click on the image below to view an expanded illustration for this species.

Dioecious shrubs, 0.8-4 m tall, forming colonies by root shoots; branches erect, flexible at base; twigs gray-brown, smooth or sparsely to densely hairy.
Alternate, simple, strap-shaped or narrowly oblong to narrowly elliptic, 3-8.5 cm long, 0.5-2 cm wide, lower surface glaucous or not, long soft-hairy to nearly smooth, hairs white, upper surface shiny, long soft-hairy to nearly smooth, margins usually minutely spiny-toothed, bases and tips pointed; leaf stalks without glandular dots at top; stipules leaflike.
Unisexual, lacking sepals and petals, borne in catkins which flower as leaves emerge or throughout season, the catkins slender, on leafy twigs; floral bracts pale, smooth or hairy, hairs wavy, female bracts deciduous; stamens 2; ovaries 1, smooth; styles 0.2-0.4 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.
Salix melanopsis and its long soft-hairy-leaved phase, which has been called S. sessilifolia var. vancouverensis Brayshaw, differ from S. sessilifolia in having shorter stigmas and nearly smooth or long soft-hairy rather than densely silky leaves.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Pioneer on moist to mesic, sandy or gravelly floodplains of streams and rivers in the steppe and montane zones; infrequent in S BC, rare northward; E to AB and S to CO, UT, and CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Salix melanopsis

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) 315 1164 2180
Slope Gradient (%) 0 6 65
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
86 209 270
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
2 5 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: BWBS(1), ESSF(6), ICH(4), IDF(1), SBS(3)


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 bolanderiana Rowlee
Salix exigua subsp. melanopsis (Nutt.) Cronquist
Salix exigua var. gracilipes (Ball) Cronq.
Salix exigua var. tenerrima (Henderson) Schneid.
Salix fluviatilis auct. non Nutt.
Salix fluviatilis var. tenerrima (Henderson) T.J. Howell
Salix longifolia var. tenerrima Henderson
Salix melanopsis var. bolanderiana (Rowlee) Schneid.
Salix melanopsis var. gracilipes Ball
Salix melanopsis var. kronkheittii L. Kelso
Salix melanopsis var. tenerrima (Henderson) Ball
Salix parksiana Ball
Salix sessilifolia var. vancouverensis Brayshaw
Salix tenerrima (Henderson) Heller

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References