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A dense shrub with procumbent main stems and ascending branches, up to 3 ft high though commonly only half that height; branchlets soon glabrous, reddish brown. Leaves broadly oval, ovate-elliptic or obovate, 3⁄4 to 11⁄4 in. long, upper surface green, fairly glossy, with scattered long hairs, underside at first hairy all over, becoming glabrous except on the main veins, margins entire, fringed with long hairs; petiole about 3⁄16 in. long. Catkins lax, borne on leafy peduncles; scales obtuse, sparsely hairy. Stamens glabrous with purplish anthers. Ovary ovoid, woolly, almost sessile; style sometimes divided at the apex, stigmas bifid, the divisions slender.
An endemic of the Pyrenees and the Cantabrian mountains, allied to S. glauca. It is one of the first willows to have been recorded scientifically, for it was found by the Netherlands botanist Charles de l’Escluse (Clusius) during his journey to France, Spain and Portugal, 1561-5, and figured by him in a work of 1601. It was introduced to Britain in 1823 and reintroduced early this century.