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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)
View this plant in a garden



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


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:

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:


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


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


Chicago, Illinois

Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Fallston, Maryland

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Bucyrus, Ohio

Newtown Square, Pennsylvania

Mountlake Terrace, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Mar 12, 2016, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

This European species is what is sold by the nursery industry called the "Pussy Willow". It is very fast growing and cheap. It usually gets about 10 to15 feet high by itself, but can even get to 20 feet high. It needs a lot of proper pruning each year to stay decent and not messy. It can easily be cut to the ground to drastically rejuvenate it. There is a very similar American Pussy Willow, Salix discolor, that is native to North America and would be nicer to use in that the native species provides more benefit for native beneficial insects.


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 mu... read more


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

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


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.


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 th... read more


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.