White willow (Eng), sauce blanco, sauce (Spa), salze blanc, saule (Cat), zume zuria (Baq), salgueiro branco (Glg), salgueiro-branco (Por).
“A haggard willow rocked / to alleviate his constant pain / and in his soft, sighing voice, / the muttering of the wind was heard...”‘The willow and cypress’, José Selgas
The white willow can be up to 25 m tall and it has the largest form of all the trees in the Iberian Peninsula. The trunk is erect and the bark is grey and fissured. The leaves are simple, deciduous, alternate, and lanceolate or oblong-lanceolate. They are 5-10 cm long and 1-2.5 cm wide, with a serrated margin and an elongated tip. They are shiny on the upper side and whitish and silky on the underside, a characteristic that distinguishes this species from Salix fragilis L. The flowers bloom in spring on long strands known as catkins. The fruits are capsules that open when ripe to release seeds wrapped in a cottony material that helps them be dispersed by the wind. Flora iberica differentiates two varieties:
Salix alba L. var. alba, which has greyish hairs on the leaves and young branches.
Salix alba L. var. vitellina (L.) Ser., whose leaves and twigs are practically hairless. In addition the adult twigs are yellowish coloured.