Goat willow, Salix caprea. Getty Images

Salix caprea

Goat willow

  • Botanical name: Salix caprea
  • Common name: Goat willow
  • Family: Salicaceae

Goat willow, also known as pussy willow (Salix caprea), is a tall, native tree that bears fluffy male catkins before the leaves unfurl, in spring. It’s a fantastic tree for wildlife, supporting a wide range of species, including queen bumblebees, tits, and caterpillars of moths and butterflies, including the purple emperor butterfly (Apatura iris).

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Goat willow trees can grow to 12m and can live for up to 300 years. They can also be grown as hedges. They have grey-brown bark which develops diamond-shaped fissures with age. The oval, green-grey leaves are coated with a fine down on the underside and are pointed at the tip.

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Goat willow isn’t typically used as a garden tree, however Salix caprea ‘Kilmarnock’ is a compact cultivar of the goat willow and considered more garden-worthy.

Where to buy Salix caprea

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How to grow Salix caprea

  • Plant size

    120m height

    80m spread

  • Aspect

    South facing, east facing, west facing

  • Position in border

    Back

  • Sun exposure: Full shade, partial shade
  • Hardiness: Hardy

Salix caprea and wildlife

Salix caprea is known for attracting bees, beneficial insects, birds, butterflies​/​moths and other pollinators. It is a caterpillar food plant, has nectar/pollen rich flowers, is used for nesting materials, provides shelter and habitat, has seeds for birds and makes a good wildlife hedge.

Attractive to Bees

Attractive to Beneficial insects

Attractive to Birds

Attractive to Butterflies​/​Moths

Attractive to Other pollinators

Is Salix caprea poisonous?

Salix caprea has no toxic effects reported.

No reported toxicity to:

No reported toxicity to Birds

No reported toxicity to Cats

No reported toxicity to Dogs

No reported toxicity to Horses

No reported toxicity to Livestock

No reported toxicity to People