Salix nigra

Black Willow
Salix nigra

Black Willow, Salix nigra, courtesy/copyright Ron White.

This site has been created by Bill Oehlke at
Comments, suggestions and/or additional information are welcomed by Bill.

Leaves are alternate, simple, pinnately veined, lanceolate in shape, 3 to 6 inches long, with a finely serrated margin. The upper surface is dark and shiny, while the underside is light green.

Dioecious (single sex) flowers are tiny, green, borne on catkins, 1 to 3 inches long and appear in early summer.

The cone-shaped fruit capsules contain many small, cottony seeds, borne on catkins. The capsules split at maturity in mid summer, but propagation by seed is not common.

Slender, orange-brown twigs have a bitter aspirin taste. The buds are small and appressed, covered by one bud scale, the terminal bud absent; stipules/scars are obvious.

Brown to gray-black bark has thick, somewhat scaly ridges and deep furrows.

This short lived, small to medium sized tree needs much water and can develop a massive trunk with a spreading, irregular crown. Black willows are often affected by crown gall, and witches brooms, and trunk sprouting is common.

It grows in the eastern half of U.S. from Maine to Florida. It can also be found in the Maritime provinces of Canada.

It can be propagated by both bare root and stem cuttings.

The following species are listed by HOSTS - a Database of the World's Lepidopteran Hostplants.

Catocala cara
Catocala parta

Satyrium acadicum
Basilarchia archippus
Nymphalis antiopa

Automeris io
Hemileuca maia WO
Hyalophora cecropia
Hyalophora columbia gloveri

none listed

I discovered a large number of Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) caterpillars feeding on lush stems of a freqently cut-over growth of this tree in a roadside ditch in Montague, Prince Edward Island, Canada. I took some stem tip cuttings about eighteen inches long and easily rooted them in a jar of water. Transplanting was successful. Subsequently I reared Hemileuca maia larve on this rapid growth tree.

I do not find it an attractive tree, and as indicated, the foliage is (very) prone to crown gall. On one occasion I cut the trunks about a foot from the ground and the trees (two) quickly produced numerous upright side shoots. Subsequent cutting of side shoots resulted in many more being formed.

If you have a moist sunny area away from the house, this tree is worth planting from cuttings primarily for viceroys and mourning cloaks. Otherwise, because of its limited use, I do not recommend it.

I have offered it to Antheraea polyphemus and Hyalophora species without success.

If you have had success utilizing this host for any Saturniidae species, please let me know. Thanks. Bill Oehlke.

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