Salix gracilistyla Miq.
Synonyms: S. thunbergiana Anderss.; S. mutabilis Hort.
A bush of a spreading habit, probably not more than 6 to 10 ft high; young shoots covered with grey down. Leaves oblong, oval, or narrowly ovate, tapered somewhat abruptly at both ends, 2 to 4 in. long, 1⁄2 to 11⁄4 in. wide; indistinctly toothed except towards the base, grey-green above, and at first covered with appressed silky hairs which afterwards fall away except on the midrib; rather glaucous and persistently silky beneath; veins numerous, conspicuous, parallel; stalk 1⁄6 to 1⁄4 in. long; stipules up to 1⁄3 in. long, persisting. Catkins produced on naked shoots in March and April; males grey suffused with red, 1 to 11⁄2 in. long; stamens in pairs, more or less connate, much longer than the scale. Bot. Mag., t. 9122.
Native of Japan, Korea and N.E. China; introduced to Europe by Messrs Barbier of Orleans in 1895. It is an interesting willow, related, though not closely, to S. viminalis (see p. 253). The specific epithet refers to the long and slender style, not seen in cultivated plants, all of which are male. It is one of the most ornamental of willows, with pretty catkins and handsome many-ribbed leaves, the venation beautifully etched beneath.
cv. ‘Variegata’. – Leaves margined with white. A Japanese garden variety, perhaps worthy of introduction (S. gracilistyla var. variegata Kimura).
S. ‘Melanostachys’ (‘Kurome’, ‘Kuro-yanagi’). – Catkin-scales blackish red, almost glabrous; anthers brick-red, becoming yellow. Young stems glabrous. Leaves almost glabrous, rich green, thicker than in the cultivated clone of S. gracilistyla, (S. gracilistyla var. melanostachys (Makino) Schneid.; S. melanostachys Makino). A striking willow introduced to Europe by Messrs J. Spek of Holland in 1950.
S. ‘The Hague’ (‘Hagensis’). – This hybrid was raised by S. G. A. Doorenbos at The Hague, reportedly by crossing S. gracilistyla with S. caprea. It is a vigorous, spreading shrub with rather thick, velvety stems. Leaves oblong, subacute or acuminate at the apex, rounded to truncate at the base, to about 4 in. long and 11⁄2 in. wide, reticulate and slightly glossy above, whitish and permanently hairy beneath. Stipules ovate, about 3⁄8 in. long. A female clone, bearing abundant, closely set silky catkins about 13⁄4 in. long.
The name S. × leucopithecia was given by Kimura to a male clone cultivated in Japan for its catkins. The parentage of this is similar to that of ‘The Hague’, namely S. gracilistyla × S. bakko Kimura, which is the Japanese counterpart of S. caprea and very closely allied to it.