Bay willow (Eng), mimbrera roja (Spa), salze pentandre (Cat).
DID YOU KNOW...? The bark and leaves of this tree have been used as a yellow dye.
This is a shrub or small tree that can be up to 7-8 m tall on the Iberian Peninsula, although in other regions in its range it can reach as much as 17 m in height. Its branches are somewhat aromatic. They are reddish-chestnut or brown in colour, and hairless and shiny, as if varnished. The leaves are simple, deciduous, alternate, somewhat leathery, oblong-elliptical or widely lanceolate. They are 5-10 cm long and 2-4 cm wide. The margin is finely serrated and glandulous. The upper side is a shiny green while the underside is paler, but not matt. The flowers are borne on long filaments known as catkins. The male flowers usually have 5 stamens, but may have between 4 and 10. The fruits are capsules that open when ripe to release seeds wrapped in a cottony material that helps them be dispersed by the wind.
This species is found in willow groves, swamps and very moist mountain meadows situated at altitudes of between 1000 and 2000 m.
The bay willow is typical of the temperate and cold mountains of the northern hemisphere, from the British Isles to Kamchatka (Russia), and from Scandinavia and Siberia to the Pyrenees, the Caucasus, the Balkans and China. On the Iberian Peninsula it is very rare and found only in the Pyrenees and nearby mountains. It is doubtful that it is a native plant, because only female specimens are seen.