Grey Willow

Grey Willow

Grey Willow - Salix cinerea

Local name: Vetrice or Vettrice

Small tree up to 9-12metres high, with trunk more or less branched from the base and irregular, sparse crown.

Together with the Goat or Pussy Willow (Salix caprea) and other shrub species, it belongs to a distinct section of the Salix genus characterised by the particular consistency of their leaves, a little like those of sage but of a different colour, and of the high number of lenticels on the greenish-grey stem. 

The upper leaf page is green and glabrous, the lower silvery-white and downy. The male catkins are very characteristic, the so-called "palms", which appear in plenty before the leaves.

The Grey Willow, widespread in alluvial plains and fresh water wetlands, can be recognised from the Goat or Pussy willow, a forest and montane species, by the little crest-like longitudinal prominences, which can only be seen by removing a small piece of bark, on its short, small branches.

But many authors consider the two willows as distinct sub-species within the "great species" in the S. caprea group. In the Tuscan marshes the Grey Willow is called "vetrice" or "basket willow" and is traditionally used for covering the permanent hides built for hunting water birds, the so-called "baskets".