Grey Willow (Salix cinerea)

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

  • Grey Willow Tree  -  Salix Cinerea  -  Mature Tree
  • Grey Willow Tree  -  Salix Cinerea  -  Leaves
  • Grey Willow Tree  -  Salix Cinerea  -  Winter Stems And Buds

Useful info about Grey Willow trees

Latin NameSalix cinerea
TypeDeciduous (loses its leaves in winter)
HeightCan grow up to 10 metres (35 feet)
SpreadThe branches can spread out to 3 - 5 metres (10 - 20 feet)
Soil Types PreferredClay, Sand
Locations SuitableFarmland, Gardens, Parks
FlowersSilver, hairy flowers / catkins in early spring
FruitSeeds in May
Celtic Tree MonthApril 15 - May 12

Similar Species


Grey Willow (Salix cinerea) is a deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 4-15 m high and is usually found growing in wetlands.

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.

The leaves are oval, have a pointed tip which bends to one side and a felt-like coating of fine grey hairs underneath. Unlike Goat Willow, the leaves are at least twice as long as they are wide

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

Grey 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.

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.

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


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 Grey 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.

Click here to dedicate a tree to be planted in a woodland in England, Scotland or Wales

Want to have a tree gift delivered to your door or to send a tree gift to someone special? We have a wide variety of UK native trees for sale in our tree shop.