Salix daphnoides Vill.
Synonyms: S. pulchra Wimm. (not Cham.)
A tree of erect, vigorous habit up to 40 ft high; young shoots at first downy, becoming glabrous, and covered with a conspicuous plum-coloured bloom; twigs brittle. Leaves oval-lanceolate, tapered at both ends, but more gradually at the point, finely toothed (the teeth glandular); 11⁄2 to 41⁄2 in. long, 3⁄8 to 1 in. wide, somewhat leathery, glabrous dark green and glossy above, blue beneath; stalk 1⁄6 to 1⁄2 in. long. Catkins produced in March; males 1 to 2 in. long, 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. wide, rather striking, and resembling those of the goat willow; females more slender; ovary almost sessile, glabrous; style about half as long as the ovary, usually yellow; stigmas linear, erect.
Native of Europe from Scandinavia to the Alps and N. Italy, east to the Urals. In Britain it has been found growing in a few out-of-the-way, damp localities in the north of England, but is not a native nor even naturalised. As a willow for the garden it is worth growing for the beautiful purple or violet-coloured bloom on the shoots, and for its handsome catkins. It received an Award of Merit in 1957. If the plants are cut back every second spring the crop of young wands makes a pleasing winter effect. In the osier basket trade it is known as ‘Violets’ and ‘French Purple’.
cv. ‘Aglaia’ (“Latifolia”). – Leaves broader than normal; stems scarcely pruinose. In cultivation since the 1830s, at least on the continent. The plants now in commerce are male, but the one received by Kew in 1880 from the Belgian nurseryman van Houtte was female.
var. pomeranica (Willd.) Koch S. pomeranica Willd. – Leaves narrower, catkins more slender; usually of dwarf habit. It was described from the southern Baltic, but is said to occur elsewhere within the range of the species. A male clone in commerce on the continent has catkins about 3 in. long.
S. × calliantha J. Kerner S. daphnoides × S. purpurea – An erect shrub with narrowly obovate leaves 4 to 5 in. long, silky on both sides when young, becoming glabrous, the upper surface dark green and glossy, margins crenate-serrate. Male catkins about 1 in. long, almost as wide when in flower; filaments united for about half their length; anthers at first red, golden-yellow when ripe. Described by J. Kerner from a plant growing near Vienna, at first thought by him to be S. caprea × S. purpurea.
S. × erdingeri J. Kerner S. daphnoides × S. caprea – This hybrid was described from a cultivated female plant near to S. daphnoides in aspect but with shorter, broader leaves about 4 in. long and 1 in. wide, silky when young, soon becoming nearly glabrous. The catkins are cylindrical, 11⁄4 to 13⁄4 in. long, 1⁄2 in. wide, and rather effective when they appear in March. The flowers show the influence of S. caprea in their stalked, slightly hairy ovaries. The cultivated plants most probably derive from Kerner’s type, but the hybrid is said to occur occasionally in the wild.
S. acutifolia Willd. S. pruinosa Bess.; S. violacea Andrews; S. daphnoides var. angustifolia Weinm.; S. d. var. acutifolia (Willd.) Doell; S. d. subsp. acutifolia (Willd.) Blytt & Dahl; S. caspica Hort., not Pall. – This is sometimes, and perhaps rightly, regarded as a variety or subspecies of S. daphnoides. It differs from that species in its more slender and often pendent shoots, its relatively narrower leaves more tapered at the apex, with fifteen or more pairs of lateral veins (eight to twelve in S. daphnoides). A further distinction is that in the female flowers the catkin-scales are about half as long as the ovary (about as long in S. daphnoides). It is a native of Russia, where it is widely distributed from the west to eastern Siberia and Central Asia. It was introduced to Germany early in the 19th century and widely used there in coastal areas for fixing sand-dunes, under the name “S. caspica”, which belongs properly to another species.
cv. ‘Pendulifolia’. – Branches arching; leaves up to 6 in. long, hanging vertically. A male clone, put into commerce by Späth in 1939 and later distributed by Dr Krüssmann from the Dortmund Botanic Garden., ‘Blue Streak’ is similar, but the leaves are shorter and the branches not so pendulous; also male.
S. kangensis Nakai – This ally of S. daphnoides is in cultivation but is only of botanical interest, the young branches lacking the bloom of the western species. It is a native of Korea, the Ussuri region of Russia and of N.E. China. The fourth member of the section Daphnella is S. rorida Lakschewitz, with a wide distribution in N.E. Asia, including Japan. It is not known to be in cultivation.