Satiny willow (Salix pellita)

Satiny willow
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Satiny willow fact file

Satiny willow description

GenusSalix (1)

Taking its name from its lustrous, velvety leaves (3) (4), the satiny willow (Salix pellita) is a distinctive shrub or small tree, found mainly in eastern Canada (4) (5) (6). The leaves are long, narrow and pointed, with straight, wavy, or slightly notched margins, which roll inwards (7) (8).

The leaves of the satiny willow have a greyish, bluish, or whitish waxy coating on the underside, as well as a covering of long, dense, often silky hairs, which are whitish or sometimes rusty in colour. In contrast, the upper surface of the leaves is glossy and hairless, or has only a sparse covering of fine hairs (2). The branches of the satiny willow are extremely brittle at the base and are reddish-brown or yellow-brown, with a greyish waxy or powdery coating (2) (5) (9).

The satiny willow produces catkins, which are hanging ‘spikes’, or inflorescences, consisting of many greatly reduced flowers. The rounded bracts of the flowers are light brown to black and are hairy on the upper surface (2)

Height: 0.5 - 6 m (2)

Satiny willow biology

The satiny willow produces flowers in the spring, usually between late April and early June (2) (5) (11). The fruits mature in early summer, releasing many plumed seeds which are dispersed by the wind. The seeds of the satiny willow must land on a moist, exposed substrate to germinate successfully (5).  


Satiny willow range

The satiny willow is found primarily in eastern Canada and in some of the more northerly parts of the United States (3) (8). Its range extends from Newfoundland to Saskatchewan in Canada, and south to the northern parts of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin in the U.S. (3) (10).


Satiny willow habitat

Restricted mainly to low elevations in wet or moist habitats (2) (10), the satiny willow is found on sandy or gravelly floodplains and around streams, rivers and lake margins (2) (4) (7) (10) (11).

The satiny willow may also be found in fens and forested swamps, along coastal dunes, and in hollows in moist, rocky outcrops (2) (3) (7).


Satiny willow status

The satiny willow has not yet been assessed by the IUCN.


Satiny willow threats

The primary threat to the satiny willow is the destruction or development of its habitat (3) (5) (10). In addition, water pollution and the invasion of non-native species are likely to threaten this species (5) (10).

Increasing recreational activity may cause further disturbance to the satiny willow’s habitat, while flooding caused by beaver dams and artificial structures, such as dams, dykes and levees, may affect this species by causing its root systems to suffocate (5) (10). Road and trail construction could also alter habitat suitability by altering the water quality, which may potentially affect this species’ growth and survival (10).


Satiny willow conservation

There are currently no known conservation measures specifically targeted at the satiny willow (5). However, in Minnesota, all of the known populations of the satiny willow are on state, federal or tribal lands, which may impart some level of protection from development (5).

Recommended conservation actions for this species include introducing measures to reduce erosion and pollution so as to protect and maintain areas of suitable habitat (10). In addition, detailed habitat surveys are needed, to obtain more information about the specific habitat requirements of the satiny willow (7).


Find out more

Find out more about the satiny willow: 



This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:



Modified leaf at the base of a flower.
To begin to grow, usually following a period of dormancy and in response to favourable conditions. For example, the sprouting of a seedling from a seed.
The reproductive shoot of a plant, which bears a group or cluster of flowers.


  1. ITIS (July, 2011)
  2. Flora of North America - Satiny willow (Salix pellita) (July, 2011)
  3. Michigan Flora Online - Satiny willow (Salix pellita) (July, 2011)
  4. Coffin, B. and Pfannmuller, L. (1988) Minnesota's Endangered Flora and Fauna. University of Minnesota Press, Minnesota.
  5. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources - Satiny willow (Salix pellita) (July, 2011)
  6. Petrides, G.A. (1998) A Field Guide to Trees and Shrubs: Northeastern and North-Central United States and Southeastern and South-Central Canada. Houghton Mifflin, New York.
  7. Michigan Natural Features Inventory - Satiny willow (Salix pellita) (July, 2011)
  8. Cofrin Centre for Biodiversity: Shrubs of Wisconsin - Satiny willow (Salix pellita) (July, 2011)
  9. Petrides, G.A. and Petrides, O. (1998) A Field Guide to Western Trees. Houghton Mifflin, New York.
  10. U.S. Forest Service - Satiny willow (Salix pellita) (July, 2011)
  11. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources - Satiny willow (Salix pellita) (July, 2011)

Image credit

Satiny willow  
Satiny willow

© Emmet J. Judziewicz

Emmet J. Judziewicz
Curator of Vascular Plants
Robert W. Freckmann Herbarium
Department of Biology and Museum of Natural History
Daniel O. Trainer Natural Resources Building, Room 301
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Stevens Point
WI 54481
United States of America
Tel: 715-346-4248


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