The weeping willow tree is a graceful looking tree with low, sweeping branches that droop to create a canopy. Weeping willow trees thrive near bodies of water, such as lakes and rivers, but can grow in drier locations as well. Adaptable to a variety of soil conditions, weeping willows feature extensive root systems that help prevent erosion. Various types of weeping willow trees grow in the United States.
The Tristis (Salix alba) cultivar is a weeping willow tree hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8. This variety reaches up to 75 feet tall and has a similar spread. Tristis trees are often called golden weeping willows due to the bright yellow branches. Green flowers bloom in April and May. Narrow green leaves typically feature white undersides. This type of weeping willow is one of the few used for residential landscaping.
The Crispa cultivar (Salix babylonica), also called the Babylon weeping willow, is winter hardy in USDA zones 6 to 8. Native to the northern regions of China, this weeping willow tree grows best in the warmer southern states. The Crispa tree features corkscrew-like leaves featuring green tops and grayish undersides. The silvery-green, non-showy flowers bloom in the spring. While these trees reach up to 40-foot high, they are commonly grown as bonsai trees. This high-maintenance cultivar is typically planted by ponds and steams.
The Golden Curls willow tree (Salix matsudana), sometimes called a dragon’s claw willow or Peking willow, is a cultivar that features golden-yellow bark and pale yellow flowers that bloom during spring. Native to east Asia, this variety is hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8. Ranging from 20- to 30-foot high, Golden Curls willows grow twisted branches and shorter leaves than other types of weeping willow trees. The leaves feature bright green tops and white-green undersides. This tree is not recommended for residential use because the twisted branches make it hard to find suitable planting sites.
The Britzensis weeping willow cultivar (Salix alba), also referred to as the coral bark willow, is primarily cultivated for its colorful yellowish-orange to orangish-red bark and noticeable red stems. Thriving in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 8, these fast-growing trees reach up to 80 feet tall and must be pruned regularly to keep the branches under control. The narrow leaves have light green tops and silvery-green undersides that turn yellow in the fall. Britzensis weeping willows are commonly used as screens, foundation plantings and shrub borders.
European Crack Willow
The European crack willow (Salix fragilis) earned its name from the weak, cracking bark that frequently causes the tree to lose its branches. Hardy in USDA zones 2 to 9, this weeping willow variety reaches 45- to 70-foot tall with a similar spread. The European crack willow bears hairy, light green leaves and non-showy flowers in the spring months. This type of weeping willow tree is usually planted as an ornamental tree or shade tree.