Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Goat Willow, French Pussy Willow
Salix caprea

Family: Salicaceae (sal-i-KAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Salix (SAL-iks) (Info)
Species: caprea (KAP-ree-uh) (Info)

4 vendors have this plant for sale.

11 members have or want this plant for trade.

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6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Pollen may cause allergic reaction

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From softwood cuttings
From semi-hardwood cuttings
From hardwood cuttings
By simple layering

Seed Collecting:
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

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to view:

By Todd_Boland
Thumbnail #1 of Salix caprea by Todd_Boland

By trilian15
Thumbnail #2 of Salix caprea by trilian15

By trilian15
Thumbnail #3 of Salix caprea by trilian15

By trilian15
Thumbnail #4 of Salix caprea by trilian15

By chicochi3
Thumbnail #5 of Salix caprea by chicochi3

By KashtanGeorge
Thumbnail #6 of Salix caprea by KashtanGeorge

By DaylilySLP
Thumbnail #7 of Salix caprea by DaylilySLP

There are a total of 12 photos.
Click here to view them all!


1 positive
2 neutrals
2 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative coriaceous On Mar 9, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

If you go to a nursery and ask for a pussy willow, you'll most likely be sold a male of this species.

It's a fast-growing upright tree reaching 25-30' tall. As with other willows, its shallow, thirsty roots spread far and wide and tend to bully its neighbors in the garden. To hold it to a manageable size and keep the flowers near eye level, it needs to be cut back close to the ground every year after blooming.

The male plants have showier flowers than the females. The pollen is severely allergenic.

A much showier and easier plant is rose-gold pussy willow, Salix gracilistyla---not the widely hyped cultivar 'Melanostachys', but the plain species, which covers its branches with big silver-pink catkins in mid-January. It's a shrub that won't get much over 10' tall even if you don't prune it.

Neutral KashtanGeorge On Dec 4, 2008, KashtanGeorge from Sochi
Russia wrote:

It's a common species of willow native to Europe and western and central Asia.

Positive Fairy1004 On Oct 9, 2007, Fairy1004 from (bestest fairy)Temperance, MI (Zone 5b) wrote:

I have had this for about 2 mos. and have not encountered the problems the other person here mentioned. Maybe it is because of zonal difference-I don't know, but I appreciate the height mine has added and enjoy the contrast it gives to my garden.

Neutral trilian15 On May 1, 2005, trilian15 from Helsinki
Finland wrote:

First I have to warn anyone who has well nursed or small garden consider not to plant s. caprea. It's all true the gardener here above writes down. In dry garden aphids are more than nuisage.

My point of view is little bit different: you see I'm living in/under cold climate. S. carpea is part of the natural ecosystem in Nordic nature. It's one of the very first plant to flower in spring, and the beautiful male flowers are food to bees, bumble-bees and a wild range of other insects.

Male and female are two different scrubs. They both spread by root and female plant products flurry seeds as much as poplar! Female plant's flowers are quite modest.

Spring honey with s. caprea has slight taste of caramel. S. carpea suits better for open wood land than to "english garden" - this is a personal opinion, of cource :)

Negative pete2255 On Apr 29, 2005, pete2255 from South East
United Kingdom (Zone 8a) wrote:

Referring to the spieces and not the weeping cultivar, it grows like a weed and seeds itself in cracks in paving etc.
Left to grow to a tree, in summer it is infested with aphids, which cause honey dew and in turn sootymould. Anything growing underneath becomes covered in a black deposit.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Chicago, Illinois
Fallston, Maryland
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Bucyrus, Ohio
Mountlake Terrace, Washington

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