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A tree up to 100 ft high in the wild; bark of young trees covered with a white bloom, scaly on older trees; branchlets glabrous, often glaucous. Leaves lanceolate or oblong-lanceolate, 2 to 31⁄2 in. long, acuminate at the apex, base cuneate, glabrous, entire or faintly toothed; petiole up to 1⁄4 in. long. Catkins appearing with the leaves on short, leafy laterals, pendulous. Male catkins slender, 3⁄8 to 1 in. long; scales broad-obovate, obtuse, three- or five-veined. Stamens five, adnate to the scale. Female catkins about 2 in. long in fruit; scales as in male catkins, deciduous. Ovary glabrous, short-stalked. Style divided to the base, each arm with two linear stigmatic lobes, deciduous in the fruiting stage.
Native of N.E. Asia, including Japan (Hokkaido and one locality on the main island). It is an interesting willow, differing from all other species (except perhaps some dwarf species of high latitudes) in being wind-pollinated like the poplars, in the absence or virtual absence, of nectaries from the flowers; in the stamens being adnate to the subtending scale; and in the deciduous style. It has been separated from Salix as the genus Chosenia, but essentially the flower-structure is that of Salix, within which it could retain its place as a separate subgenus. It has been introduced, but is unlikely to grow to a large size in our climate.
Another anomalous species that may be mentioned here is:
S. urbaniana Seem. Toisusu urbaniana (Seem.) Kimura; Salix cardiophylla Trautv. & Mey. subsp. urbaniana (Seem). A. K. Skvortsov; Toisusu cardiophylla var. urbaniana (Seem.) Kimura – A massive tree in the wild, up to 90 ft high and 7 ft in diameter, with a deeply furrowed bark. Leaves ovate or elliptic-ovate, to 6 in. long and 17⁄8 in. wide, finely toothed, almost glabrous when mature, glaucous beneath; petiole up to 11⁄4 in. long. Catkins on leafy laterals. Male flowers with five to ten stamens, free from the scale, in catkins 2 to 3 in. long. Female flowers in longer catkins; style deeply cleft, with linear stigmas, deciduous. Native of Japan often by mountain streams, common around Lake Chuzenji. It is the type of the section urbanianae (subgenus Salix), consisting of a few species in N.E. Asia, probably reducible to one – S. cardiophylla. This section has been given generic rank by Kimura as Toisusu, and is grouped by him with Chosenia in the tribe Choseniae of the willow family. It resembles S. arbutifolia in the slender, deeply cleft, deciduous styles, but the flowers are insect-pollinated and nectaries are present in both sexes, those in the female flowers placed laterally, one on each side of the ovary instead of the normal ‘fore and aft’ position. S. urbaniana may not be in cultivation in Britain but is worthy of trial. Prof. Sargent of the Arnold Arboretum thought it the finest of all the Japanese willows.