Salix × sepulcralis Simonk. (1889)

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Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

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'Salix × sepulcralis' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online ( Accessed 2020-09-24.



  • S. × salamonii Carr. ex Henry (1913)


The author(s) of a plant name. The names of these authors are stated directly after the plant name often abbreviated. For example Quercus L. (L. = Carl Linnaeus); Rhus wallichii Hook. f. (Hook. f. = Joseph Hooker filius i.e. son of William Hooker). Standard reference for the abbreviations: Brummitt & Powell (1992).
Reduced leaf often subtending flower or inflorescence.
Organism arising via vegetative or asexual reproduction.
Lacking hairs smooth. glabrescent Becoming hairless.
Plant originating from the cross-fertilisation of genetically distinct individuals (e.g. two species or two subspecies).
With saw-like teeth at edge. serrulate Minutely serrate.
(syn.) (botanical) An alternative or former name for a taxon usually considered to be invalid (often given in brackets). Synonyms arise when a taxon has been described more than once (the prior name usually being the one accepted as correct) or if an article of the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature has been contravened requiring the publishing of a new name. Developments in taxonomic thought may be reflected in an increasing list of synonyms as generic or specific concepts change over time.
(var.) Taxonomic rank (varietas) grouping variants of a species with relatively minor differentiation in a few characters but occurring as recognisable populations. Often loosely used for rare minor variants more usefully ranked as forms.


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Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Recommended citation
'Salix × sepulcralis' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online ( Accessed 2020-09-24.

A group of hybrids between S. alba and S. babylonica, which have arisen spontaneously within the area where S. alba is native and S. babylonica still generally cultivated. The hybrid has been recorded from Central Asia, Transcaucasia, Asiatic Turkey and Palestine. In western Europe it is probable that most of the cultivated trees belong to the clone ‘Salamonii’ (see below), but there is some evidence that other forms were distributed, either as S. alba or S. babylonica. The type of S. × sepulcralis was a tree cultivated in Hungary, but its origin is unknown. These hybrids (as grown in Europe) differ from S. babylonica in their greater height and robustness, thicker and shorter pendulous branchlets, the silkiness of the young stems and young leaves, and the stouter, more hairy, longer stalked catkins.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

cv. ‘Chrysocoma. – There is really very little doubt that this willow is a hybrid of the group S. × sepulchralis and would have been placed under it as a cultivar but for the fact that Rehder, followed by other authorities such as Krüssman, gives S. × chrysocoma Dode as a synonym of S. alba var. tristis, which was taken to mean that they had actually studied the latter and decided that ‘Chrysocoma’ was not a hybrid but a cultivar of S. alba.

Evidently, however, there has been confusion between ‘Chrysocoma’ and the older S. alba ‘Tristis’ (‘Vitellina Pendula’) which, it was suggested (page 304), might be a parent of ‘Chrysocoma’. No mention was made of the possibility that this putative parent might still be in cultivation but, according to the Czechoslovak authority J. Chmelar, this is indeed the case (Year Book 1983 of the International Dendrology Society, page 107). He points out that the older clone, for which he uses the name S. alba ‘Tristis’, closely resembles ‘Chrysocoma’ but is a weaker, less pendulous grower, has wholly female catkins (in ‘Chrysocoma’ they are androgynous) and drops its leaves earlier. He remarks that all the oldest yellow-twigged weeping trees belong to this cultivar, and often show fungal infection. Whether this cultivar exists in Britain is at the moment impossible to say. It also needs to be ascertained whether the weeping willow sold by continental nurserymen as S. alba ‘Tristis’ or ‘Vitellina Pendula’ is the old clone of S. alba or S. × sepulchralis ‘Chrysocoma’.

On pages 304-5 various weeping hybrids of S. babylonica are discussed, none much planted in Britain, which have S. fragilis instead of S. alba as a parent. For these Meikle (op. cit., p. 57) adopts the collective name S. × pendulina Wenderoth, the group as a whole being distinguished from the hybrids with S. alba by the more distinctly and rather irregularly serrate leaves, only thinly hairy at first and soon glabrous; and by the elongate, flask-shaped ovaries, much longer than the subtending bract-scale (in S. × sepulchralis, including ‘Chrysocoma’, the ovaries are shortly tapered, and not much longer than the subtending scale).

Under S. × pendulina, Meikle distinguishes var. pendulina (the typical variety), which arose before 1831, probably near Marburg, var. elegantissima and var. blanda (see S. ‘Blanda’, page 305). Of these only ‘Elegantissima’ (as it is preferable to call it) has ever been much planted in Britain. A useful spotting character for this willow is that the ovaries are downy at the base.

'Salamonii' (“Sepulcralis”)

This is one of the handsomest and most vigorous of all willows. It is not so weeping as S. babylonica, having inherited some of the firmer outlines of S. alba, but is still extremely graceful. It grows at least 60 ft high, forming a broad, shapely head of luxuriantly leafy branches; twigs silky when young. Leaves 2{1/2} to 5 in. long, {1/2} to {7/8} in. wide, green above, blue-white beneath, silky beneath on first expanding and slightly so above, but less so than in S. alba and soon becoming as glabrous as those of S. babylonica, margins rather closely and finely toothed. They are slow to fall in autumn, some remaining on the tree as late as December. Catkins female (sometimes androgynous) about 1{3/4} in. long on peduncles about 1 in. long; scales ovate, obtuse or subacute, ciliate, eventually deciduous. Ovary ovoid, glabrous, sessile; style short.This willow first appeared on the property of Baron de Salamon at Manosque, Basses-Alpes, some years before 1864, and was put into commerce by Simon-Louis of Metz in 1869. It is fast-growing when young, but perhaps short-lived or subject to wind-breakage, for the large trees that once grew at Kew on the south side of the Lake are gone, and no old specimens have been recorded in recent years. But all the older weeping willows have become uncommon since ‘Chrysocoma’ began to spread into gardens at the end of the last century.S. ‘Chrysocoma’. Golden Weeping Willow. – A large tree with stout branches ascending at an angle of 45° or 50°, the secondary branches steeply pendulous, usually reaching to the ground; young wood clear yellow by late summer, becoming greyish yellow in the second year, at first clad with silky appressed hairs, soon glabrous. Leaves narrow-lanceolate to narrow-elliptic, gradually tapered at the apex, shortly cuneate at the base, 3 to 4{1/2} in. long, {3/8} to {5/8} in. wide, finely serrate, silky on both sides at first, soon glabrous above, becoming more slowly so on the glaucous underside; petioles downy, {1/4} to {3/8} in. long. Catkins in early spring with the leaves, slender, 1{1/2} to 2 in. long, on leafy stalks; they are either female or male, the two sexes occurring on the same or separate twigs, or are androgynous, the female flowers then occupying the apical part of the catkin; bisexual flowers also occur. Catkin-scales lanceolate to oblong, hairy towards the base, the hairs on the scales and rachis longer in the males (and on the male sector of a mixed catkin). Ovaries glabrous; style short (S. vitellina pendula nova Späth; S. alba var. vitellina pendula (Späth) Rehd.; S. babylonica ramulis aureis Hort.; S. alba ‘Tristis’ Hort., not S. alba var. tristis (Ser.) Koch; S. × chrysocoma Dode).This fine weeping willow is of unrecorded origin and uncertain botanical status. It seems very likely that it derives from the old semi-pendulous form of S. alba var. vitellina, which was known to Loudon and described by Seringe in 1815 as S. alba vitellina-tristis, from a plant received from Baumann’s nursery; it was also distributed as S. aurea and very possibly as S. vitellina pendula – whence the name S. vitellina pendula nova under which Späth put ‘Chrysocoma’ into commerce in 1888. Whether this tree owes its perfectly weeping habit to a mutation or to the influence of S. babylonica is a matter for dispute. The first to suggest that it was a hybrid of S. babylonica was the French dendrologist Dode, who re-named the Späth clone S. × chrysocoma in 1908; apart from the habit of the tree he adduced the androgynous catkins, so often a sign of hybridity. James Fraser, who made a careful study of the catkins and flowers of ‘Chrysocoma’ was convinced of its hybridity. If indeed it derives from S. alba and S. babylonica it should strictly be placed under S. × sepulcralis, but the name S. ‘Chrysocoma’ is unambiguous and leaves open the problem of its status. The origin of the name S. babylonica ramulis aureis has not been ascertained; the trees so named are usually supposed to be of the same clone as ‘Chrysocoma’, and the difference, if any, must be very slight (see Journ. R.H.S., Vol. 58 (1933), pp. 401-2).The golden weeping willow is the most frequently planted of all pendulous trees, and fine specimens are to be seen in suburban districts, where it can be something of a cuckoo-in-the-nest, often occupying virtually the whole garden. The largest specimen recorded grows at Trinity College, Cambridge, and measures 76 × 12{1/4} ft (1969).The only fault of ‘Chrysocoma’ is that with its heavy, ascending branches and rather brittle wood it becomes liable to wind-breakage when mature. All the old trees at Kew have lost large limbs in recent years.The weeping willows so far discussed all derive from S. babylonica and S. alba. There are others, probably never much planted in Britain and certainly never much remarked on, of which the parentage is S. babylonica crossed with S. fragilis or, more likely, with the much commoner S. × rubens (S. alba × S. fragilis). These hybrids have been known in commerce as S. babylonica simply, as S. babylonica mas (also, rather oddly, as S. babylonica foemina), S. sibirica pendula, S. Petzoldii, etc., for none of which has a description been traced. The botanical names used for this group are S. × blanda Anderss. (1867) (see ‘Blanda’ below) and S. × elegantissima K. Koch (1871). The latter is, unfortunately, an ambiguous name. Koch’s description was based on a tree known to him, said to be common in N.E. Germany and much hardier than S. babylonica. But the horticultural synonyms that he cites may have belonged to different clones. This would explain why descriptions of S. × elegantissima by other botanists disagree with Koch’s and indeed the supposition finds support in Koehne’s Deutsche Dendrologie (1893), p. 91, where it is recorded that the old trees at Berlin labelled S. elegantissima by Koch himself were not uniform in their botanical characters.There is record of “S. babylonica mas” being introduced to Britain in the 1870s, and it is possible that the trees studied by James Fraser in the 1920s, of which herbarium specimens still exist, belong to this clone. Branchlets dull green, terracotta or reddish. Leaves almost glabrous from the start, lanceolate, to 5{1/2} in. long and 1 in. wide, dark green above, paler beneath. Catkins female or of mixed sex, to about 1{3/4} in. long on peduncles about {1/2} in. long; scales strap-shaped, acute or blunt. Ovary distinctly stalked, downy at the base. This agrees with S. × elegantissima as described by Rehder in the Manual, but not with Koch’s original description, since the type of S. × elegantissima had glabrous, sessile ovaries. The tree distributed by Dieck towards the end of the last century as S. elegantissima seems to have been a different clone, with longer catkins on longer peduncles.On the North side of the Lake at Kew there is an old tree resembling S. × sepulcralis in habit but belonging to this group and perhaps the true S. elegantissima. The catkins and flowers agree well with Koch’s description and with a specimen, dated 1847, sent by Braun, Director of the Berlin Botanic Garden, where Karl Koch carried out his studies (Koch acted as Director for a year after Braun’s death but, much to his disappointment, was not given the post).S. ‘Blanda’. – This was described by Andersson in 1867 from a specimen collected in a garden at Hanau in Hessen, Germany. Dippel, who was Director of the Darmstadt Botanic Garden some thirty-five miles away, records that this willow was planted elsewhere in the Hanau district, and sent cuttings from a tree in the Castle Garden at Darmstadt to the nurseryman Späth of Berlin, who put this willow into commerce. ‘Blanda’ was judged by Andersson, from the herbarium specimen, to be S. babylonica × S. fragilis, but this clone remains an enigma. It is not truly a weeping tree at all, though the branchlets are somewhat pendulous. The leaves are dark green, glossy, and rather thick, quite unlike those of any other hybrid or putative hybrid of S. babylonica, rather bluntly toothed. The catkin-scales are narrowly triangular, acute and the ovaries (it is a female clone) glabrous, short-stalked. An authentic herbarium specimen at Kew, from the Hanau garden, was annotated by Linton, the British authority on willows, as S. babylonica × S. pentandra. Only young plants of ‘Blanda’ have been seen.


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