French Pussy Willow - 'Salix caprea'The French Pussy Willow can grow as a small erect tree with multiple stems or a low-growing multi-stemmed shrub. A fairly simple plant originally native to Europe, the French Pussy Willow's only real draw comes from the male catkins which appear in March and early April and are affectionately referred to as Pussy Willows because of their silky softness. This species is often confused with Salix discolor, the true Pussy Willow, which is native to wet areas over much of the eastern United States. Fairly large and upright the French Pussy Willow can be a choice garden plant for cutting gardens. According to an old Polish legend, many springtimes ago a mother cat was crying at the bank of the river in which her kittens were drowning. The willows at the river's edge longed to help her, so they swept their long graceful branches into the waters to rescue the tiny kittens who had fallen into the river while chasing butterflies. The kittens gripped on tightly to their branches and were safely brought to shore. Each springtime since, goes the legend, the willow branches sprout tiny fur-like buds at their tips where the tiny kittens once clung.
||French Pussy Willow or Goat Willow|
||Kilmamock, Pendula, Weeping Sally|
||Deciduous Flowering Shrub|
||Full Sun to Partial Shade|
||Leaves are alternate, simple, broad-elliptic to oblong, 2 to 4 inches long, 1 to 2 and 1/4 inches wide, acute, rarely rounded at base, irregularly and slightly toothed or nearly entire, pubescent at first, finally glabrate, rugulose and dark green above, gray-pubescent beneath and reticulate. Leaves turn yellow gold in fall.|
||20 to 25 feet high with equal spread.|
||Zone 4 to 8. For an idea of your plant zone please visit the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.|
||Upright, rank growing deciduous shrub, differentially developing upright and arching branches that resemble a tree with multiple stems.|
||Showy, Gray or Pink. Flowers in Spring or Winter. The plant is dioecious and has both male and female plants. Male plants display the catkins so coveted.|
|Diseases & Insects:
||While it is resistant to Verticillium, it can be susceptible to aphids, borers, caterpillars and spider mites, anthracnose, branch blight, oak root rot, phytophthora, root sot, Rust and sooty mold. None are particular serious.|
||Chief value is in the early spring male catkins; French Pussy Willow works best as a shrub border, massing, groupings, bank plantings, riparian, or screen.|
||Alkaline to acidic, this plant is tolerable of almost all soil types. Enjoys clay, loam, or sand.|
||Water regularly after initial planting. Prune after flowering either by cutting plant to ground or removing the oldest stems.|
||Fertilize an area three times the canopy spread of the shrub 1 to 2 times a year with a 10-10-10 fertilizer. Only fertilize an established shrub.
||Dig a hole three times the diameter of the root system, with a depth no deeper than the original soil line on trunk. Break up the soil to the finest consistency possible. Place plant in hole and fill, compacting the fill dirt. Water the plant heavily to seal soil around the roots and remove air pockets. Water well, and remember to water regularly until they have started to grow.