Pacific Willow (Lasiandra)

The Pacific Willow (Lasiandra) is generally described as a perennial tree or shrub. This is native to the U.S. (United States) . Leaves are not retained year to year.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Ethnobotanic: The inner bark was dried, ground into a powder, and then added to flour for making bread. The stems and bark were used in basket making (Moerman 1998). The native Americans used the stems for bow making and the bark for fabric making and tea.

Medicinal: Willows produce salicin, which is closely related to acetylsalicyclic acid, commonly known as aspirin. Various preparations from willows are used to treat stomachache, sore throats, colds, diarrhea, and dandruff. The inner bark is haemostatic and has been applied externally to bleeding cuts (Moerman 1998).

Landscaping & Wildlife: Pacific willow is an excellent species for use in landscaping. It provides food and cover for many wildlife species. Deer and elk browse the young shoots of the plant. It is also a preferred food of mouse and cattle.

Agroforestry: Salix lasiandra is used in tree strips for windbreaks. They are planted and managed to protect livestock, enhance production, and control soil erosion. Windbreaks can help communities with harsh winter conditions better handle the impact of winter storms and reduce home heating costs during the winter months.

General Characteristics

General: Pacific willow (Salix lasiandra) is a tall, slender, large shrub or small tree, fifteen to forty-five feet high (McMinn & Maino 1963). The leaves are long, thin, shiny, five to ten centimeters long with finely toothed edges. The fruits are thick catkins that are hairless, light reddish-brown, and six to eight millimeters long. The bark is furrowed with broad flat scaly plates.

Required Growing Conditions

Pacific willow is native along stream banks from British Columbia southward to southern California and New Mexico (McMinn & Maino 1963). For current distribution, please consult the Plant profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

Adaptation Salix lasiandra is a fast growing but short-lived tree. This species prefers a damp heavy soil but will succeed in most soils. This species is often found in riverbanks, floodplains, lakeshores, and wet meadows often standing in quiet river backwaters (MacKinnon, Pojar, & Coupe' 1992). It grows best in a sunny position scattered at low elevations along major rivers (Ibid.).

Cultivation and Care

Propagation from Seed: Seeds must be sown as soon as they are ripe in the spring. Seeds are viable for only a few days and the maximum storage period is four to six weeks with germination rates dropping off fast after ten days at room temperature (Dirr & Heuser 1987). Willow seeds have no dormancy and germinate within twelve to twenty-four hours after falling on moist ground (Ibid.). Seedbeds must be kept moist until seedlings are well established.

Propagation from Cuttings: Hardwood cuttings can be collected and prepared for insertion, normally from November through March. Cuttings seven to ten inches long and a half to one inch thick are initially stuck close and dug after one year (Dirr & Heuser 1987). Willows have a rooting percentage of ninety to one-hundred percent and the rooting number is not promoted by rooting hormones (Ibid.).

General Upkeep and Control

Pacific willow is used to colonize disturbed sites for streambank stabilization projects. Cuttings are used for revegetating disturbed riparian areas to extract soil moisture and high amounts of carbohydrates. SAMI3"Growth of small burnet begins in early spring and flowers appear in late May through June. The plant establishes slowly and should not be grazed until at least the second growing season. Small burnet plants have been known to persist for more than 20 years on western rangelands. As with other species, the life of the plant can be prolonged if it is permitted to set seed on a rotational basis.

Weed control and removal of very competitive species may improve establishment. Damage from wildlife and rodents may occur and they may need to be controlled. Disease problems are minimal with small burnet.

Seed Production: Small burnet should be seeded in 30 inch rows at the rate of 12 pounds PLS per acre to 42 inch rows at the rate of 10 pounds PLS per acre (25 to 30 seeds per linear foot of row) to allow mechanical weed control. It should be seeded in early spring (April - May).

Hand rouging within row and cultivation between rows may be required after plants have reached 2 to 3 inches in height. Split applications of nitrogen in spring and fall and application of phosphorus in fall will enhance production following the establishment year. For optimum production, do not stress plants for moisture during late bud stage, pollination and re-growth.

Bees are very active in seed fields when plants are in full bloom and therefore it is considered a good nectar producer.

Seed is generally harvested in mid to late August by direct combining with platform set high enough to get most of the seed while leaving as much green material as possible. Seed development occurs progressively from the bottom of plant to the top and is mature when dry and seed is hard and dark in color. Harvest when approximately 80 percent of seed clusters are ripe. Seed shatter is not a serious problem with this species. Seed should be allowed to dry to 12 to 15 percent moisture and then stored in a cool dry area. Seed retains viability for several years under these conditions.

Seed yields of 700 to 1000 pounds per acre can be expected under irrigated conditions and 250 to 350 pounds per acre under dryland conditions. Seed production under dryland conditions is not recommended below 14 inches of average annual rainfall.

Environmental Concerns: Small burnet establishes and spreads relatively quickly via seed distribution. Generally, it is not considered weedy or an invasive species, but can spread into adjoining vegetative communities under ideal climatic and environmental conditions. There have been reports of it having invasive weedy characteristics in Wyoming.

Control Please contact your local agricultural extension specialist or county weed specialist to learn what works best in your area and how to use it safely. Please read label and safety instructions for each control method. Trade names and control measures appear in this document only to provide specific information. USDA, NRCS does not guarantee or warranty the products and control methods named and other products may be equally effective.

The following was provided by Holzworth (2000). Using 2 qt Roundup and 1 pt 2,4-D to kill seed fields can accomplish eradication and the fields are also plowed under. Of course, this herbicide mixture would kill desirable plants as well. Pam Hutchinson, Herbicide Specialist at Aberdeen R & E Center, Aberdeen, Idaho, recommended the following to control small burnet in a pasture situation: A tank mix of Escort, Banvel, 2,4-D and a surfactant. The addition of 2,4-D may make the mix hot enough to kill the burnet. Also suggested was a mix of Stinger (0.5-1.5 pt) and 2,4-D (1-2 pt). This mix is labeled for knapweed. Another suggestion was using Tordon, but only as a last resort. Specific information should be obtained through your local agricultural extension office. "

Plant Basics
General Type Tree, Shrub
Growth Duration Perennial
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.
Physical Characteristics
Displays Fall Colors No
Flower Conspicuousness No
Gardening Characteristics
Cold Stratification Required No
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Resprout Ability No
Responds to Coppicing No
Growth Requirements
pH Range 0–0 pH
Precipitation Range 0–0 inches/yr
Planting Density 0–0 indiv./acre
Minimum Frost-Free Days 0 day(s)
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Fire Resistant No

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database,
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA