grey willow, pussy willow
Vascular – Exotic
Trees & Shrubs - Dicotyledons
The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.
Deciduous shrub or small tree up to 7 m tall, many branched forming dense thickets with grey or green-grey bark, leaves up to 7 x 3.5 cm, pale green on upper surface, grey below, flowers of two types produced in spring before the leaves on separate plants, the males being silky hairy catkins, often yellow due to pollen production, the female catkins being longer and silvery green.
Widespread and locally abundant throughout both islands but rare in the Far North, South Westland and Southland
Swamps, fens, water body margins and disturbed places.
Shrub or small tree to approx. 7m high, often only 1~2m, spreading or often forming dense thickets; bark rather smooth. Shoots not brittle; grey or greenish-grey and remaining hairy, or reddish to dark purple and often becoming glabrous or glabrate, generally with pale brown markings and striations prominent below surface for around 2 years. Buds reddish, glabrate or hairy. Petiole to about 1cm long on adult shoots, but often very short and hairy. Lamina 2~7 x 1.5~3.5cm, often smaller at base of lateral shoots, generally obovate, sometimes elliptic, not bitter to taste; grey or glaucous below, generally densely clothed in soft grey hairs, sometimes rather sparsely clothed in harsher reddish-brown hairs, soon glabrous and shining above except for midrib, glandular-serrulate to subentire; angle between midrib and veins > 45¦; apex rounded to cuspidate. Stipules semi-annular, small, persisting on strong vegetative shoots. Catkins appearing before leaves, 1.5~3.5cm long, broad-cylindric to clindric-ovate, generally erect; rachis villous. Bracts 1.5~3mm long, elliptic to oblong-obovate, black in upper half, sericeous; apex obtuse to rounded. Gland .5~.8mm long, rectangular to almost square. Stamens 2; filaments pilose towards base. Female flowers with pedicels > bracts; ovary white-tomentose, stalked.
Leaves are broader then most other common willows, the combination of obovate leaf shape and grey-hairy undersides should distinguish this from all other willows.
September to October
October to November
Perennial. shrub. Seed dispersed by wind, water and contaminated machinery.
Europe, West Asia and North Africa
Reason for introduction
Can be controlled manually, mechanically or herbicidally depending on situation.
Factsheet prepared by Paul Champion and Deborah Hofstra (NIWA). Features description from Webb et. al. (1988).
References and further reading
Webb, C.J.; Sykes, W.R.; Garnock-Jones, P.J. (1988). Flora of New Zealand Volume 4: Naturalised pteridophytes, gymnosperms, dicotyledons. Botany Division, DSIR, Christchurch.
Popay et al (2010). An illustrated guide to common weeds of New Zealand, third edition. NZ Plant Protection Society Inc, 416pp.
Johnson PN, Brooke PA (1989). Wetland plants in New Zealand. DSIR Field Guide, DSIR Publishing, Wellington. 319pp.