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Corkscrew Willow, Curly Willow, Pekin Willow, Hankow Willow, Dragon's Claw Willow 'Tortuosa'

Salix matsudana

Family: Salicaceae (sal-i-KAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Salix (SAL-iks) (Info)
Species: matsudana (mat-soo-DAY-nuh) (Info)
Cultivar: Tortuosa
Synonym:Salix matsudana var. tortuosa
Synonym:Salix babylonica var. pekinensis



Water Requirements:

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

over 40 ft. (12 m)


30-40 ft. (9-12 m)


USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

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:

Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:

From woody stem cuttings

From softwood cuttings

From semi-hardwood cuttings

From hardwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us


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

Clovis, California

Los Altos, California

Vallejo, California

Littleton, Colorado

Kihei, Hawaii

Ashton, Illinois

Champaign, Illinois

Elgin, Illinois

Greenville, Indiana

West Friendship, Maryland

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Salisbury, North Carolina

Andover, Ohio

Bucyrus, Ohio

Chippewa Lake, Ohio

Findlay, Ohio

Mc Comb, Ohio

Owasso, Oklahoma

Salem, Oregon

Conneaut Lake, Pennsylvania

Homestead, Pennsylvania

Kintnersville, Pennsylvania

Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Conway, South Carolina

Newberry, South Carolina

Knoxville, Tennessee

Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Rowlett, Texas

Alexandria, Virginia

Palmyra, Virginia

Ruther Glen, Virginia

Blaine, Washington

Grand Mound, Washington

Puyallup, Washington

Twin Lakes, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Aug 4, 2014, Notsurprised from Surrey BC,
Canada wrote:

Interestingly Curious Beautiful wispy feathery green willow shaped leaves.
Fragile to wind storms, grows very fast. We have 8 trees that were elegant in 2005 and need serious wind damaged corrective pruning.
My intention is to cut them to about 1/2 their current height of about 25 ft.
Hopefully they will rejuvenate new branches on healthy but short 1 ft stubs?
They enhance our property line appearance greatly.
Likely very short lived as for their very fast growth (makes them a weak soft wood) with many elbows or turns. Gorgeous when in their peak.


On Aug 14, 2010, Ed45 from Salisbury, NC wrote:

I live in central North Carolina. I planted my Corkscrew Willow in the spring of 2005. I received the tree through The Arbor Day Foundation. The tree was nothing more than a long stick, barely a foot long. I planted it close to a downspout in my front yard. Needless to say, it has done very well in that location. The tree has reached over 15 feet tall already, and still growing. Everyone who sees it loves it. It gracefully arches over a portion of my driveway, providing shade and privacy to the front of my house. The tree grows very fast, and is a good choice in a "barren new subdivision". Ironically, the name of my subdivision has the word "Forest" in it, but is basically devoid of any native trees. It is a clear-cut into a natural wooded area. Anyway, if I had to re-plant a Corkscrew Wil... read more


On Sep 23, 2009, altoclef from Los Altos, CA wrote:

From San Jose, California

In order to avoid invasive roots, I planted a curly willow in a large pot. It grows, but it does not thrive. It may be possible that it does not get consistent moisture. If I can make it happy in the pot, it will be beautiful.


On Jan 19, 2009, catcollins from West Friendship, MD (Zone 6b) wrote:

When we bought this house, the corkscrew willow was about 8' high and wide. I loved it even then and insisted that the patio, deck and ponds be installed around it, since I refused to chop it down. Seven years later, it is 20' high and wide and a centerpiece for our outdoor entertainment area.

The leaves emerge yellow-green and contorted then go dark green through summer. Fall color is yellow. The twisted branches and striped bark are beautiful all winter. Only some branches weep, and only gently.

This tree sways softly in every breeze. Expect smaller branches to clutter the area, or pick them up and incorporate into bouquets! Upcut to make room for a sitting area and enjoy the shade. Leave some weeping branches in place to soften the outline.


On Nov 12, 2008, ccmata from Littleton, CO wrote:

I also live in Denver and have 2 corkscrews. One of them is growing about 45 feet high the other is about 25 feet. It's always been a problem finding someone to properly prune them. Every tree service that comes by tells me these trees are the only ones they've seen. They don't do well when we get a big snow fall when the leaves are still on the tree. They also are the last trees in the area to lose the leaves. I'd love to know if anyone has any information on properly trimming them.
thanks in advance.


On Oct 19, 2008, dreamwoodck from Denver, CO wrote:

My tree is a chopped-up version of the one depicted in the Vancouver BC Botanical Gardens photo. I say chopped up because it has obviously been cut back to eliminate damage and by someone harvesting the twisty branches. When I bought the house (1993), the tree had been long suffering from a disease or fungus that caused it to lose nearly all its bark. Also, the bole was partially rotted and bug-eaten. Still, about half of the remaining few branches would green up every spring. it obviously wanted to live, until this year (2008) when nothing grew back.
I'm sorry I didn't learn until now that I could have cloned it from cuttings.
The neighbors tell me it is a "rare Chinese corkscrew willow" which a missionary to China gave to the original owner when the house was built in 1922.... read more


On Feb 13, 2007, HgNi2006 from Vallejo, CA wrote:

This tree was already here when I bought the house, otherwise my H would not have allowed me to plant it for its invasive roots. I am so glad it was here because I love it! It was about 6' a year ago, now it's about 8' and is the most gorgeous tree imaginable, even in the winter with no leaves. It's up against a fence so I can see it being a problem in a few years but I'm sure I can prune it.


On May 28, 2006, jhnyboy from Tunkhannock, PA wrote:

This tree grows on the outer edge of our property in Tunkhannock Pa. I wasn't sure what it was, but was fascinated by it from the moment I saw it. neat branches,and leaves. I am going to investigate propagation of this tree.

Ours is about twenty feet high.


On Apr 18, 2004, willowz wrote:

Hi! The corkscrew grows well and easily survives winters in the Niagara Region of Ontario, Canada. I have about 8 growing now on my property and I am preparing 40+ more for spring planting. They provide a great visual break in the landscape with their soft green texture. I find them to be comfortable in wet areas and surprisingly drought resistant at the same time. When first planted, regular watering can give you a beautiful-looking tree in just a few years.