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

Salix discolor Muhl.
pussy willow
Salicaceae (Willow family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Bryan Kelly-McArthur  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #88162)

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Distribution of Salix discolor
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This is a deciduous species of wetland shrub.

Species Information

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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.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / 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.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


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) 350 904 1759
Slope Gradient (%) 0 7 85
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
4 102 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
1 4 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: BG(6), BWBS(19), ESSF(10), ICH(12), IDF(8), MS(9), SBPS(12), SBS(79)


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 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.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References