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).


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.


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

This page contains affiliate links and we may receive a commission for purchases made. Please read our affiliates FAQ page to find out more.

How to grow Salix caprea

  • Plant size

    120m height

    80m spread

  • Aspect

    South facing, east facing, west facing

  • Position in border


  • 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