Salix bebbiana (tentative)

A tentative species identification today, as making a positive identification of a willow is usually a non-trivial matter involving a wide-ranging suite of characteristics. In this case, I have some close-up photographs that more clearly show the leaf shape (obovate), the not-glaucous nature of the branches, and what appear to be yellow buds against the reddish-branches. Combined with the habitat, the known species from the area, and the habit (a small shrub not forming a colony), and I reached the conclusion of Salix bebbiana–but I am entirely willing to be corrected! For more on willow identification, see A Guide to the Identification of Salix (willow) in Alberta (listed in the references).

Assuming the yellow-leaved plant in the photographs is Salix bebbiana, then this is a representative of a species native to much of North America north of Mexico, with the exception of the southeast USA. Bebb’s willow or beak willow is also found in far eastern Russia and Siberia. Like the Betula glandulosa from a few days ago, this is an important browse species (though not this particular individual, given its precarious location).

There are somewhere in the vicinity of four hundred willow species, in addition to a number of naturally-occurring hybrids. The majority of these are native to the temperate and arctic northern hemisphere. Unfortunately, when a few species were introduced into Australia for erosion control, they eventually became invasive.

Salix bebbiana (tentative)
Salix bebbiana (tentative)

6 responses to “Salix bebbiana (tentative)”

  1. Marilyn Brown

    Breathtaking !

  2. phillip

    …wow…the bottom left of pic #2…looks like a portrait of a person with an owl flying by..

  3. Linda

    Maligne Canyon is a wonderful place. Willows are so hard to tell apart. Stunning photo.

  4. elizabeth a airhart

    daniel just keeps getting better and better
    how high up were you the sounds all around you must
    give one a sense of the what the world was like
    before we arrived the links are fine thank you daniel
    phillip you are a hoot

  5. Calochilus

    Willows in Australia, have until recently , been clonal and of one sex, thus having little capacity to spread by seed except for a very small chance of hybrids. Even so S. bablonica managed to spread far and wide, though not without man’s help. Salix fragilis , on the other hand is a bit more mobile, spreading downstream during floods with relative ease.
    What has tipped the balance was the introduction of S. matsudana hybrids of both sexes. These have formed fertile colonies, some with hybrid vigour and some with extraordinary seed set capacity. Some of these, in a few years, have come to dominate a few waterways and represent a major threat to the environment, not seeming to have any natural predators.
    As a race, ewe humans tend to be slow learners. We imported a hybrid Lantana, L. camara, which also has no natural enemies (thus no biological control agents) which has taken over the temperate East Coast.

  6. Elizabeth Revell

    Not only a beautiful willow; what about the beautiful gorge!
    We in NZ also have the same willow issues as Australia – a shame, as they’re attractive trees along a waterway. But they give the regeneration of our slower growing native “wet feet lovers” such as Kahikatea or Pukatea no chance

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