Plants sometimes forming clones by stem fragmentation. Stems: branches (highly brittle at base), gray-brown or violet, not glaucous, tomentose to glabrescent; branchlets red-brown, violet, or mottled yellow-brown, sparsely to densely velvety. Leaves: stipules absent or rudimentary on early ones, late ones 1.2-4 mm, apex acute or acuminate; petiole convex to flat, or shallowly grooved adaxially, 3.5-12(-21) mm, (sometimes 2 spherical glands distally), velvety adaxially; largest medial blade lorate, narrowly oblong, or narrowly elliptic, (48-)54-82-100(-125) × (7-)9-16.7-25 mm, base cuneate or convex, margins flat, serrulate or crenulate, apex acute, acuminate, or convex, abaxial surface glaucous (sometimes obscured by hairs), densely short-silky, hairs straight, adaxial dull, sparsely pubescent to glabrescent; proximal blade margins entire; juvenile blade reddish or yellowish green, very densely short-silky abaxially, hairs white, sometimes also ferruginous. Catkins flowering as or just before leaves emerge; staminate stout, 13.5-40 × 4-9 mm, flowering branchlet 0-2 mm; pistillate loosely to moderately densely flowered, slender to stout, 18-43 × 5-12 mm, flowering branchlet 1-3 mm; floral bract dark brown, black, or bicolor, 0.8-1.5 mm, apex rounded, abaxially hairy, hairs straight or wavy. Staminate flowers: adaxial nectary ovate to oblong, 0.3-0.8 mm; filaments distinct or connate less than 1/2 their lengths; anthers purple turning yellow, 0.4-0.6 mm. Pistillate flowers: adaxial nectary oblong, ovate, or flask-shaped, 0.4-0.7 mm; ovary ovoid, beak abruptly tapering to styles; ovules 6 per ovary; styles 0.2-0.4 mm. Capsules 2.5-4 mm. Flowering early Mar-early Jun. Wet, boggy shores, sandy terraces, ledges along streams, low woods, sedge meadows, acid bogs, open seepages, rocky, silty, sandy, or peaty substrates, possibly also on serpentine soils; 5-1300 m; N.B., N.S., Que.; Ala., Ark., Conn., Del., D.C., Ga., Ill., Ind., Iowa, Ky., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Mo., N.H., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Pa., R.I., S.C., Tenn., Vt., Va., W.Va., Wis. Some specimens of Salix sericea are difficult to separate from S. petiolaris (G. W. Argus 1986). Salix sericea can be distinguished from S. petiolaris in having branches highly brittle at base, stipules on early leaves rudimentary or absent, on late leaves usually foliaceous, juvenile blades usually with white hairs, rarely some ferruginous, ovaries ovoid, beaks abruptly tapering to styles, and capsules 2.5-4 mm; S. petiolaris has branches flexible at base, stipules on all leaves absent or rudimentary, juvenile blades usually with conspicuous ferruginous hairs, ovaries pyriform, beaks gradually tapering to styles, and capsules 5-9 mm.
See 68. Salix eriocephala for comments on differences.
Salix sericea forms natural hybrids with S. eriocephala and S. petiolaris. Reports of hybrids with S. humilis (C. K. Schneider 1921; M. L. Fernald 1950) are not based on convincing specimens.
Shrub to 4 m tall Leaves: alternate, on 4 - 14 mm long, minutely hairy leafstalks, dark green above, with a waxy coating (glaucous) beneath, 4 - 12 cm long, 1 - 3 cm wide, lance-shaped with a tapering to rounded base and pointed tip, gland-toothed, silky-hairy, becoming hairless above and minutely silky-hairy beneath. Flowers: either male or female, borne on separate trees (dioecious) in short-stalked, hairy, cylindrical catkins. Female catkin green with blackish scales, to 4 cm long. Ovary hairy. Male catkin to 2 cm long, with blackish scales. Stamens two. Fruit: a capsule, in elongated clusters, stalked, light brown, 3 - 5 mm long, flask-shaped, and hairy. Seeds have long, white, silky hairs attached. Twigs: slender, brittle at base, purplish to brown, and minutely hairy when young. Buds: brown, small, egg-shaped, and pointed.
Similar species: In the Chicago Region, Salix sericea differs from other shrub willows by having distinctly toothed leaves that are silky-hairy beneath and not revolute (rolled downward along the margins). Salix alba, which has similar leaves, grows as a tree.
Flowering: March to May
Habitat and ecology: Salix sericea is typical of moist ground, often in or near running water. In the Chicago Region it is local in bogs, sandy swales, and swampy woods. It also grows in Buttonbush depressions, principally in the eastern sector.
Occurence in the Chicago region: native
Etymology: Salix is the Latin word for willow. Sericea means silky.
Shrub or small tree, to 4 m; twigs brittle at the base, slender, brown, densely gray- to brown-tomentose when young, later glabrate except often at the nodes; stipules lanceolate to semi-ovate, 3-10 mm, often deciduous; petioles slender, 5-10 mm, puberulent; lvs narrowly lanceolate to lanceolate, 6-10(-14) נ1-2.5(-3) cm, acuminate, cuneate at base, closely glandular-serrate, dark green and puberulent to glabrous above, glaucous and densely to thinly short-sericeous beneath; catkins ±precocious, 1-4 cm, subsessile or on narrow-bracted peduncles to 1 cm; scales 1 mm, blackish, villous; stamens 2; frs ovoid-oblong, 3-5 mm, blunt, short-sericeous; pedicels 0.5-1(-1.5) mm; style 0.1-0.3 mm. Moist, rocky ground, often in or near running water; N.S. and N.B. to Wis. and e. Io., s. to S.C., n. Ga. and n. Ark. (S. coactilis) A possible hybrid with no. 29 [Salix viminalis L.] is S. سubsericea (Andersson) C. K. Schneid.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.