Sandbar Willow

Salix interior
Salicaceae (willows)

A slender, upright shrub forming thickets by spreading roods, or a small tree.

Leaves simple, alternate, very narrow, 2–6 inches long, about ¼ inch wide, thin, with scattered and unevenly spaced, gland-tipped small teeth, only 3–12 to an inch; tip pointed. Leaf stalk 1/8 inch or less, hairy. Young leaves silky hairy beneath.

Bark green to gray or brown, smooth; on older trunks furrowed and broken into closely flattened scales.

Twigs slender, erect, green to brown or red, smooth or hairy, sometimes with a white, waxy coating.

Flowers May–June, flowering after leaves develop, male and female flowers in separate catkins in axils on twigs, borne on separate plants.

Fruits June–July, catkins 1½–2 inches long; capsules about ¼ inch long, oval with a beaklike point; seeds minute, attached to long white silky hairs at the base.

Height: to 30 feet.
Habitat and conservation: 
Occurs on sandbars, mud flats and alluvial muddy banks of streams, oxbow lakes, ponds and ditches of river bottoms and floodplains. Often associated with silver maple and cottonwood on the river flats of the Missouri and Mississippi. It is drought resistant and suitable for planting on stream bottoms to prevent erosion. It prefers locations with less gravel than Ward's willow (S. caroliniana).
Distribution in Missouri: 
Statewide, but apparently absent in some counties of the southeastern lowlands.
Some manuals call this willow Salix exigua.
Human connections: 
Sandbar willow is a good soil binder and bank stabilizer; it prevents washing and erosion of alluvial soil. Each year, Missouri sells about $7 billion of agricultural products, and agriculture (whether crops or livestock) depends intimately on soil—so we don't want it to wash away!
Ecosystem connections: 
Deer eat the twigs and leaves; rodents, including muskrat and beaver, and rabbits eat the shoots and buds. Some ducks and water birds eat the catkins and leaves. Bees make a high-grade honey from the flowers. Willow thickets provide cover for wildlife and stabilize stream banks.
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