Mimbrera, mimbre, sarga negra (Spa), salze pedicel.lat (Cat).
“I slept in the dark eternity / sweet sleep, tired forehead / resting on a willow springing / solitary on the stream bank.”
'Rhymes', Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer
This species is a tall shrub with greyish or blackish bark that can reach the size of a tree up to 10 m in height. Its leaves are simple, deciduous, and alternate. They measure 5-10 cm long by 1-3 cm wide, and are elliptical, lanceolate and oblong in shape, with a sharp or blunt tip and an entire or serrated margin. The upper side is green and smooth, and the underside is a little hairy. The flowers are borne on long filaments known as catkins. This species is easy to distinguish as the stalk of the inflorescence is well developed and has some modified leaves (bracts) at the base, which are somewhat different from typical leaves. The fruits are capsules, in this case smooth, that open when ripe to release seeds wrapped in a cottony material that helps them be dispersed by the wind. However, it is a species that in western Andalusia is hugely variable, particularly in dimension, shape, hairiness of the leaves, and other parts of the plant.
This species grows on the banks of watercourses and flooded depressions, from sea level up to an altitude of 2400 m, such as in the Sierra Nevada, although it is more frequent in the lower reaches of rivers and on acid substrates. It hybridises easily with other species in the genus, like S. atrocinerea and S. salviifolia, so it is not uncommon to find individuals with intermediate characteristics in areas where their ranges overlap, making identification more difficult.
This tree is found throughout most of the Mediterranean region and is widely distributed across the southern half of the Iberian Peninsula, occupying almost all of Andalusia, Ciudad Real, Murcia and Valencia.