Grey willow (Eng), bardaguera, sarga negra, sauce (Spa), gatell (Cat), sahats iluna (Baq), salgueiro negro (Glg), salgueiro-preto (Por).
“Ash, alder and willow are able, to keep light banks stable”.
(Popular Spanish proverb)
This small tree can be up to 12 m tall, but it sometimes occurs as a very branching shrub. It differs from Salix caprea L. by the peeling bark on its branches, and the grooved wood. The mature leaves are also smaller and their undersides have rust-coloured hairs that give it a reddish tone if you look carefully. The leaves are deciduous, simple, alternate, oblong-lanceolate, 2-10 cm long and 1-2 cm wide, with an entire or finely serrated margin. They are matt on the upper side and hairy on the underside. The flowers develop in early in spring in long strands called catkins and it is considered a very melliferous plant. The fruits are capsules that open when ripe to release seeds wrapped in a cottony material that helps them be dispersed by the wind.
It is found in creeks, streams, valleys, lakes and boggy land near water sources and springs. It grows best in acidic soils and is found from sea level up to 2000 m.
This tree lives in western Europe and northern Africa. It is widely distributed across the Iberian Peninsula, although it is absent from the Balearic Islands.