Willow trees and shrubs are part of the genus Salix. Comprised of 300 different species of trees and shrubs, each has its own distinct shape and size. Some willow trees have twisted stems and branches, while others are known for colorful catkins and striking winter shoots. Drought-tolerant, willow trees require deep, moist, well-drained growing environments.
The corkscrew willow (Salix matsudana var. tortuosa) is a deciduous willow variety with a rapid growth rate and course texture. Corkscrew willow trees have slender, contorted branches and stems, hence their name, with an upright and rounded form. Corkscrew willow trees grow 20 to 40 feet in height and 15 to 25 feet wide. The simple green leaves grow 3 to 6 inches long. Corkscrew willow trees prefer full sun and moist soil to thrive. The USDA hardiness zone for planting is 5 to 8.
Hankow willow (Salix matsudana) is a deciduous tree with a rapid growth rate and fine texture. The contorted stems and conical shape deepens to red in winter for a bright burst of color. Hankow willow trees have simple leaves with a curled shape. Growing up to 50 feet in height and 25 feet wide, hankow willow trees create a commanding presence. Hankow willow trees require full sun to thrive. Drought-tolerant, Hankow willows grow in a wide range of soil types. The zone for planting is 5 to 8.
Japanese Fantail Willow
The Japanese fantail willow (Salix sachhalinensis "Sekka," Salix udensis "Sekka") is a variety of willow tree with a rapid growth rate and medium texture. The rounded and large form of the Japanese fantail is made up of flat stems that are twisted. Japanese fantail willow trees grow 10 to 15 feet tall and wide. The simple leaves grow 4 to 6 inches long and turn purple and red in the fall. In early spring, Japanese fantails bloom to produce catkins that are soft, yellow and often used in floral arrangements. Japanese fantail willow trees require full sun and grow in a wide range of soil types, making for an adaptable willow variety. The zone for planting is 5 to 7.
White willow (Salix alba var. sericea) is known for its thick white coating on its foliage. White willows are deciduous trees with a rapid growth rate and fine texture. The long, pendulous branches hang low under the rounded crown. White willow trees grow 60 to 75 feet in height and 60 feet wide. Their slender leaves grow up to 4 inches long with a smattering of white on the lower part of each leaf. White willow trees prefer full sun and moist, well-drained soil to thrive. The zone for planting is 2 to 8.