Random Plant: Pussy willow

A couple of weeks ago I came across several pussy willows (Salix discolor, Salicaceae) in various reproductive stages. These large shrubs are dioecious, with separate male and female plants. Both sexes produce flowers in elongated, slender clusters known as catkins. The male catkin buds appear fuzzy and silvery in late winter and early spring, looking somewhat like cat toes:

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Pussy willow catkin buds (Salix discolor, Salicaceae) photographed 05/05/2013 at Pinckney State Recreation Area near Chelsea, Michigan.

By mid-spring the catkins flower and are pollinated by both wind and insects:

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Pussy willow catkin (Salix discolor, Salicaceae) photographed 05/05/2013 at Pinckney State Recreation Area near Chelsea, Michigan.

Fertilized female catkins produce clusters of slender green fruit. Each capsule contains a number of small seeds:

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Pussy willow fruit (Salix discolor, Salicaceae) photographed 05/05/2013 at Pinckney State Recreation Area near Chelsea, Michigan.

Native to southern Canada and the northern United States, pussy willows have a preference for moist, poorly-drained soil. Although they can be found in fields and meadows, they are more commonly associated with streams, lakes, swamps, and wetlands. I found the individuals shown here in the marshes surrounding Losee Lake at Pinckney State Recreation Area near Chelsea, Michigan.

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About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Botany, Random Plant and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Random Plant: Pussy willow

  1. The pussy willow is one of those plants that connects me with grandparents and aunts and uncles. You would alwasy find it planted somewhere in their yeard.

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  2. Aren’t they lovely? Here is my post on Pussy Willows:
    http://mindfuldrawing.com/2011/03/31/how-to-draw-salix-cinerea/
    Bullfinches and other birds like to eat the fluffy seeds of Salix cinerea.

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  3. In elementary school classrooms I use to see pussy willows but never in advance stages until now. Guess you just have to live long enough to see some things or do somethings.

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