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April 4, 2009 / Bo Mackison


Goat Willow

Goat Willow

I went for a walk at the University of Wisconsin Arboretum looking for a hint of spring. And I found all the willows covered with catkins.

The goat willow (Salix Caprea), frequently referred to as the pussy willow, is a common tree species. It is a wetlands plant in the wild, and if not pruned, it will grow up to 20 feet tall. Catkins are a true harbinger of spring, and it is tradition at my home to bring a few branches of pussy willows into the house as spring’s first bouquet.

Dappled Willow

Dappled Willow

The Dappled Willow (Salix Integra) is also known as The Japanese Willow or ‘Hakuro-nishiki’  and is one of the smaller willows, often grown as a shrub or small tree. The catkins appear in early spring just before the leaves unfurl.  Willows are one of the earliest trees to leaf out, often as much as 4 weeks before other trees.


  1. Sande / Apr 4 2009 6:57 am

    The colors in your catkin photo (the top one) are perfection! Makes me want to be out in the warm spring sunshine.

  2. Anna Surface / Apr 4 2009 7:41 am

    I really like the unfurling of the dappled willow in the second photo. Nice detail. 🙂

  3. amuirin / Apr 4 2009 7:22 pm

    I love the little fuzzy buggers. They appeal to my sense of utility. Seems like there should be a use for the little furred pellets.

    So nice to see spring emerging, however slowly.

  4. Bernie Kasper / Apr 4 2009 11:23 pm

    Beautiful color and detail Bo, great shots !!

  5. Gandalf / Apr 6 2009 8:10 am

    Aren’t these pussy willows?

    • Bo / Apr 8 2009 10:22 am

      Yes, there are many varieties of pussy willows. I only learned about the huge variety recently, on a walk through our arboretum.

  6. ybonesy / Apr 8 2009 10:11 am

    Are “catkins” the buds of the pussy willow? Catkins is a new term for me, too.

    • Bo / Apr 8 2009 10:23 am

      Yes, the fuzzy part that emerges in early spring.

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