Goat Willow (Salix caprea)

The Goat Willow (Salix caprea) also known as "Pussy Willow" is a fast growing tree with velvety flowers.

  • Goat Willow Tree  -  Salix Caprea  -  Mature Tree
  • Goat Willow Tree  -  Salix Caprea  -  Leaves
  • Goat Willow Tree  -  Salix Caprea  -  Winter Stems And Buds

Useful info about Goat Willow trees

Latin NameSalix caprea
TypeDeciduous (loses its leaves in winter)
HeightCan grow up to 10 metres (35 feet)
SpreadThe branches can spread out to 4 - 8 metres (12 - 24 feet)
Soil Types PreferredChalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Locations SuitableGardens, Parks
FlowersSilver, hairy flowers / catkins in early spring
FruitSeeds in May
Celtic Tree MonthApril 15 - May 12

Similar Species


Goat Willows prefers wet soils but they thrive almost anywhere and mature trees grow to 10m and can live for 300 years.

The bark is grey-brown and develops diamond-shaped fissures with age. Twigs are initially hairy becoming smooth, and can appear reddish yellow in sunlight.

Leaves are oval, have a pointed tip which bends to one side and a felt-like coating of fine grey hairs underneath.

Goat willow is dioecious, which means the male and female flowers grow on separate trees. Male catkins are grey and stout turning yellow when they are ripe with pollen. Female catkins are longer and green and develop into woolly seeds.

There are many native willow species in the UK and many hybridise each other, which makes them tricky to identify. For example, Goat Willow often hybridises with the Grey Willow (Salix cinerea) which it is closely related to.

The flowers are produced in early spring in catkins 2–5 cm long; it is dioecious with male and female catkins on separate plants.

The male catkins are silvery at first, turning yellow when the pollen is released; the female catkins are greenish-grey, maturing in early summer to release the numerous tiny seeds embedded in white cottony down which assists wind dispersal.

Goat Willow usually grows in wetlands.


Goat willow timber is soft and yellow. Unlike most willows, it has brittle twigs. Its wood is used to make clothes pegs, while the foliage used to be a good winter feed for cattle. The wood also makes a good fuel for fires / wood burners.

Willows were traditionally used for pain relief. Asprin is derived from salicin, which is a compound found in the bark of all willows.


Any uses for trees or tree extracts, whether edible or medicinal, have not been tried or tested by EFORESTS.

Please take caution and seek proper advice before attempting any recipes or medicinal extracts from any of the trees listed on our site.

Culture and Symbolism

The Goat Willow tree is believed to represent survival, adaptability, fertility and new life.

Willows used to be associated with celebration but they are now associated with sadness and mourning. In northern regions willow branches are used, instead of palm branches, to celebrate Palm Sunday.

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