University of Maryland Extension

Giant pussy willow, Japanese pussy willow

Author: 
Text and photo by Ellen Nibali

Salix chaenomeloides

You have to feel fond of a plant you can pet.  The furry catkins on this variety of pussy willow grow so large they resemble little bunnies. Some even sport “toes”.  This fun small tree reaches 15-25 feet tall at a fast rate. Its narrow dark green leaves are a lighter tone underneath. Perfect for winter interest in the garden, its buds swell shiny red in late winter. To enjoy it indoors, cut branches as soon as the silky rose-gray catkins emerge. Eventually they will bristle with fuzzy yellow anthers.  Plant in full sun and moist soil for best growth.  

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