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Featured Urban Tree

Black Willow (Salix nigra)

Black Willow Tree The yellow-green catkins of a large Black Willow tree on the banks of Scarborough Creek emerge in mid-March, a sure sign of spring. Black Willow is a native tree found throughout Tennessee and the eastern and mid-western U.S. It is usually associated with wet soils along stream banks and edges of wetlands. The species is dioecious (having separate male and female individuals). The lanceolate leaves, which emerge with the catkins, are simple, alternate, and dark green. The tree typically attains heights of 30 to 60 ft., but may grow as high as 100 to 140 ft.


Black Willow catkins Black Willow is known as a honey tree because the nectar it produces attracts many pollinators such as bees, flies, and other insects. The wood is weak, but has been used for a variety of purposes including furniture, boxes, barrels, cabinetry, and pulp wood. It has also been used for basketry and to make charcoal. The extensive root system of Black Willow is effective in stabilizing eroding soils and controlling streambank erosion. Along with other species of willow, the bark of Black Willow contains derivatives of salicylic acid, the main compound in aspirin.

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University of Tennessee - Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center
901 South Illinois Avenue, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37830 · Telephone: 865-483-3571 · Email: UTforest@utk.edu