Salix amygdaloides (Peach-leaved Willow)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Genus:Salix
Family:Salicaceae (Willow)
Life cycle:perennial woody
Origin:native
Habitat:sun; moist to wet; shores, river banks, floodplains, marshes, swales
Bloom season:May - June
Plant height:13 to 65 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACW MW: FACW NCNE: FACW
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: indistinct Cluster type: spike

[photo of male catkins] Male and female flowers are on separate plants (dioecious) in spike-like clusters (catkins) at the tips of short branchlets along 1 year old branches, emerging with or just after the leaves. Male catkins are 1 to 3 inches long, the flowers loosely arranged in whorls around the stalk, each flower with 3 to 7 yellow-tipped stamens that have a few hairs on the lower half of the stamen stalk (filament).

[photo of female catkins] Female catkins are slender, 1 to 4 inches long, the flowers somewhat loosely arranged on the spike, narrowly pear to bottle-shaped with a long beak, hairless, and on slender stalks 1.4 to 3.2 mm long. At the base of each male and female flower stalk is a yellowish scale-like bract covered with wavy hairs. The bracts drop off as fruit develops.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are alternate, 2 to 5 inches long, to 1½ inches wide, 2.8 to 6 times as long as wide, narrowly lance-elliptic, widest below or near the middle, wedge-shaped to somewhat rounded at the base, with a long taper to a pointed tip, often with a slender, tail-like extension at the tip. The upper surface is dull or only slightly glossy, medium to dark green, the lower surface dull, pale blue-green. Edges are finely toothed. Leaf-like appendages at the base of the leaf stalk (stipules) are absent or obscure on early leaves, small or obscure on later leaves. Glands at the tip of the leaf stalk are mostly absent.

[photo of hairs on new leaves] New leaves are shiny, yellowish-green, sparsely to moderately covered in crinkled, white and sometimes rusty-colored hairs on both surfaces, soon becoming mostly hairless; hairs may persist along the midvein especially near the leaf stalk. A fine network of veins is visible on the lower surface. New branchlets are hairless, yellowish turning gray-brown to red-brown the second year.

[photo of multi-stemmed trunk] Older bark is gray with deep furrows and flat ridges. Trunks are single or a few in a clump, erect to leaning or even prostrate, and can reach 30 inches diameter at breast height (dbh).

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of developing fruit] The spike elongates some as fruit matures, the fruit becoming more loosely arranged than the flowers.

[photo of capsules and scale] Fruit is a capsule 3 to 7 mm long, yellowish when mature, hairless, pear-shaped, inflated at the base with a long beak. The capsule splits into two halves when mature, releasing the cottony seed. 

Notes:

There are over 20 species of Willows in Minnesota; Peach-leaved Willow is the most common native tree Willow in the state, found in a variety of moist to wet places, especially areas prone to seasonal flooding such as lake shores and river banks. It is recognized by the finely toothed, narrowly lance-elliptic toothed leaves up to 5 inches long, many of which have a long, slender, tail-like tip, green on the upper surface and paler blue-green on the lower; new leaves shiny yellowish-green and covered in crinkly hairs, soon becoming mostly hairless; leaf-stalks usually lacking glands at the tip near the blade; hairless capsules 3 to 7 mm long on stalks up to 3.2 mm long; male flowers have 3 to 7 stamens with a few hairs on the lower part of the filament. Catkins emerge with or just after the leaves and are subtended by a yellowish bract covered in wavy hairs; the bracts fall off as fruit develops. Stipules are mostly absent or obscure. Branches are brittle at the base and tend to break off during storms.

All of Minnesota's tree Willows have similarly shaped leaves but there are subtle distinctions. The two natives—Peach-leaved Willow and Black Willow (Salix nigra)—both have crinkly hairs on new leaves; the three non-natives—Crack Willow (Salix fragilis), Bay Willow (Salix pentandra) and Whitecrack Willow (Salix ×rubens)—have new leaves that are hairless or with straight, silky hairs. All but Peach-leaved Willow typically have glands at the tip of the leaf stalk; they are only sometimes present on Peach-leaved Willow. Only Black Willow has leaves a similar shade of green on both the upper and lower surface; all the others are pale green to blue-green on the lower surface. Bay Willow has very shiny leaves that are stiffer and broader than the others. Whitecrack Willow also has fairly stiff leaves but they are more narrow and not as shiny as Bay Willow.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Anoka and Ramsey counties. Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka County.

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