Osier Willow (Salix viminalis)

Osier Willow is a multistemmed shrub growing to between 3-6 m (rarely to 10 m) tall. It has long, erect, straight branches with greenish-grey bark.

  • Osier Willow  -  Salix Viminalis  -  Leaves
  • Osier Willow  -  Salix Viminalis  -  Mature Tree

Useful info about Osier Willow trees

Latin NameSalix viminalis
TypeDeciduous (loses its leaves in winter)
HeightCan grow up to 5 - 10 metres (18 - 35 feet)
SpreadThe branches can spread out to 5 - 10 metres (18 - 35 feet)
Soil Types PreferredChalk, Clay, Limestone, Loam, Sand
Locations SuitableFarmland, Gardens, Parks
FlowersYellow catkins in spring
FruitSeeds in autumn
Celtic Tree MonthApril 15 - May 12

Similar Species


Osier Willow trees have long and slender leaves, 10-25 cm long but only 0.5–2 cm broad. They are dark green above, with a silky grey-haired underside.

The flowers are catkins, produced in early spring before the leaves; they are dioecious, with male and female catkins on separate plants.

The male catkins are yellow and oval-shaped; the female catkins are longer and more cylindrical; they mature in early summer when the fruit capsules split open to release the numerous minute seeds.

It is commonly found by streams and other wet places.

The exact native range is uncertain due to extensive historical cultivation; it is certainly native from central Europe east to western Asia, but may also be native as far west as southeastern England.

As a cultivated or naturalised plant, it is widespread throughout both Britain and Ireland, but only at lower altitudes.

It is one of the least variable willows, but it will hybridise with several other species.


Along with other related willows, the flexible twigs (called "withies") are commonly used in basketry, giving rise to its alternative common name of "basket willow".

In the Chilean village of Chimbarongo, it is used to fashion the renowned baskets.

Another increasing use is in energy forestry, effluent treatment, wastewater gardens and water purification.


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 Osier 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.