Salix hastata L.
A prostrate or low, spreading shrub, sometimes erect and up to 5 ft high; young shoots hairy, purplish the second year. Leaves of hard texture, ovate, oval or obovate, tapered, rounded or sometimes (on vigorous shoots) heart-shaped at the base, always more or less acutely pointed, 1 to 4 in. long, 1⁄2 to 21⁄4 in. wide, ordinarily quite glabrous on both surfaces at maturity, but sometimes densely hairy when young, dull green above, glaucous beneath, veins in seven to ten pairs; stalk 1⁄8 to 3⁄8 in. long. Stipules usually present, often large and conspicuous, obliquely heart-shaped. Catkins appearing with or shortly before the leaves; scales lanceolate to obovate, blunt, usually dark at the tip, densely silky-hairy. Male catkins stout, up to 2 in. long, shortly stalked, with a few small silky hairs at the base. Stamens with yellow anthers, filaments glabrous. Female catkins longer-stalked than the male, with larger leaves on the peduncle. Ovary glabrous, shortly stalked (the stalk about one-third as long as the ovary); style up to one-half as long as the ovary.
Native of Eurasia, widely distributed, but mainly confined to the mountains in the southern part of its range, absent from Britain in the wild state; introduced in 1780.
cv. ‘Wehrhahnii’. – A very ornamental willow, bearing a profusion of silvery male catkins in April, beautifully shown up by the fresh-green young leaves. It was discovered around 1930 by Garteninspektor Bonstedt of Geismar, Germany, during a visit to the Engadine, and was named by him after his late friend H. R. Wehrhahn, author of a standard work on herbaceous plants. One of the first examples to be imported into this country was given by Frank Knight, then nursery manager to Messrs Notcutt, to Clarence Elliott, the well-known authority on alpine plants. Planted in 1953, this has attained a height of 6 ft and a spread of 12 ft in the garden of his son, Joe Elliott, at Broadwell, Moreton-in-Marsh. ‘Wehrhahnii’ received an Award of Merit in 1964, on April 21.
S. apoda Trautv. – This Caucasian species is allied to S. hastata, but is apparently always a low shrub, and there is the botanical distinction that the ovary is almost sessile, the style more developed, and the stigmas linear and entire. The female catkins are more shortly stalked than is usual in S. hastata and become up to 4 in. long in fruit.
The male clone of S. apoda introduced by Walter Ingwersen from the Caucasus in the 1930s is perhaps the most ornamental of the dwarf willows and received an Award of Merit when shown from his nursery in 1948. The stout, silky catkins are 1 to 13⁄4 in. long, produced just before the leaves in late March or April; anthers at first orange, becoming pale yellow; leaves light green, glabrous. It is a ground hugging shrub, best suited to the rock garden, where it will mould itself to the contours and eventually cover a wide area.