Goat Willow Salix caprea

👤 Non-toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
goat willow


The plant in question, commonly known as goat willow or pussy willow, is recognized by its unique and attractive catkins which are fluffy and silver or soft gray in appearance. These catkins are often one of the first signs of spring, emerging before the leaves. The foliage itself is simple with a broad ovate shape, sporting a slightly wrinkled texture and a muted green color. Edges of the leaves are finely toothed, providing a delicate detail to the overall lush appearance of the plant. Branches tend to grow in a somewhat irregular fashion, adding to the character of the goat willow with their brown to gray-colored bark which may develop a slightly furrowed texture with age. The overall appearance emits a wild, rustic charm, often bringing a touch of nature's resilience to the landscape. During the transition into autumn, the foliage can turn to a golden yellow, before shedding its leaves for winter.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Goat Willow, Great Sallow, Pussy Willow, Saule Marsault, Palm Willow.

    • Common names

      Salix caprea var. sphacelata, Salix caprea var. tomentosa, Salix caprea var. acutifolia, Salix caprea var. vulgaris

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      The plant commonly known as Goat Willow is not considered toxic to humans. Therefore, there are no specific symptoms of poisoning associated with the ingestion of this plant. It is generally safe, and there are no expected toxic consequences from ingesting parts of the Goat Willow.

    • To pets

      The Goat Willow is not typically regarded as toxic to pets either. It is not known to cause symptoms of poisoning in animals such as dogs or cats if they ingest parts of the plant. Consequently, there are no significant toxic consequences expected from pets ingesting the Goat Willow. However, as with any non-food plant, ingestion of large amounts might cause gastrointestinal discomfort or other non-specific digestive issues.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      13-26 feet (4-8 meters)

    • Spread

      13-26 feet (4-8 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area

      Europe Asia


  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Eco-friendly landscaping: Salix caprea, commonly known as Goat Willow, is often used in environmentally-friendly landscaping for its low maintenance and adaptability to various environments.
    • Wildlife habitat: It provides shelter and nesting sites for birds, while its catkins are an early source of pollen and nectar for bees and other pollinators.
    • Erosion control: The extensive root system helps stabilize soil and prevent erosion, making it valuable for planting in riparian zones or areas prone to soil degradation.
    • Aesthetic appeal: With its attractive catkins, also known as "pussy willows," and its ability to form a dense canopy, Goat Willow offers visual interest in gardens and parks.
    • Biomass production: It can be grown for biomass and is often harvested for renewable energy due to its rapid growth rate.
    • Riparian restoration: Goat Willow is useful in restoration projects along waterways to restore natural ecosystems and improve water quality.
    • Soil improvement: Through leaf litter, the plant contributes to soil nutrient cycling and organic content enhancement.
    • Windbreak: Its growth habit and tolerance to various conditions make it suitable for use as a windbreak, providing protection for crops and other plants.
    • Phytoremediation potential: Although not a strictly air purifying quality, Goat Willow can absorb contaminants from soil, playing a role in cleaning up polluted environments.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • Anti-inflammatory: Salix caprea contains salicin, which can be metabolized into salicylic acid, a precursor of aspirin, and might help in reducing inflammation.
    • Analgesic: The presence of salicin also indicates potential pain-relieving properties.
    • Antipyretic: Salicin may possess fever-reducing capabilities.
    • Astringent: The tannins present in Salix caprea can act as a mild astringent, possibly aiding in the treatment of external skin conditions.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Salix caprea, commonly known as Goat Willow, can be used to create living sculptures or structures in gardens since it is flexible and can be easily shaped while growing.
    • The wood of Goat Willow is sometimes used for making small craft items, like boxes or carved ornaments, due to its fine grain.
    • Goat Willow branches may be woven into baskets or used as framework for traditional wickerwork thanks to their flexibility when young.
    • The tree can be planted for erosion control because its extensive root system helps stabilize the soil in wet areas.
    • Goat Willow is used in agroforestry systems where its quick growth provides shelter and improves microclimates for agricultural crops.
    • The catkins, which are flowers of the Goat Willow, are sometimes used for ornamental purposes in floral arrangements, especially in early spring.
    • Because it grows rapidly, Goat Willow can be used as a pioneer species in reforestation projects, helping to prepare the soil for other plants.
    • Goat Willow is sometimes planted along stream banks for riparian buffer strips, which helps filter runoff and protect waterways from pollution.
    • The fuzzy catkins of the Goat Willow are collected and used as a natural stuffing material for small pillows and toys in some traditional practices.
    • In habitat restoration, Goat Willow can provide a valuable source of nectar and pollen for bees and other beneficial insects early in the season.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Pussy Willow is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Pussy Willow is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Flexibility: Salix caprea, commonly known as the Goat Willow or Pussy Willow, is known for its flexible branches, symbolizing adaptability and resilience.
    • New Beginnings: The plant's early spring blossoms represent rebirth and new beginnings, as they are often one of the first signs of spring.
    • Protection: In folklore, willows were thought to ward off evil and were used as protection against negative forces.
    • Healing: With its salicin-rich bark, which was a precursor to aspirin, the Goat Willow also symbolizes healing and relief from pain.
    • Intuition: The plant's association with water and the moon connects it to the realm of emotions and intuition.

Every 2-3 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 2-3 years
As needed
  • water dropWater

    Pussy Willow should be watered deeply and thoroughly to ensure the water reaches the root zone. Typically, watering once a week with about 1 to 1.5 gallons of water is sufficient, but this may vary depending on the climate and soil conditions. During hot, dry spells, increase the frequency of watering to twice a week. Ensure that the soil is moist but not waterlogged, as standing water can lead to root rot. Adjust the amount of water during the winter when the plant is dormant, reducing it significantly to prevent overwatering.

  • sunLight

    Pussy Willow thrives best in full sun to partial shade. It should be placed in a spot that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight each day, but it can also tolerate some shade, especially during the hottest parts of the day. Avoid deep shade locations, as insufficient sunlight can impair the plant's growth and blooming potential.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Pussy Willow prefers temperate climates and can endure a wide range of temperatures. It can survive in temperatures as low as -20°F during its dormant winter period and can handle summer temperatures well into the high 90s°F. The ideal growth temperatures for Pussy Willow are between 50°F and 75°F. Avoid exposure to prolonged extreme temperatures, which can stress the plant.

  • scissorsPruning

    Pruning Pussy Willow is essential for maintaining its shape and encouraging new growth. It is best pruned in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Annually remove any dead, damaged, or diseased branches, as well as any crossing or unwanted branches to improve air circulation. Pruning can also stimulate the production of the attractive catkins for which the Pussy Willow is renowned.

  • broomCleaning

    Not needed

  • bambooSoil

    Goat willow thrives in moist, well-drained soil with a pH ranging from neutral to slightly acidic. A mixture of loam, sand, and peat is ideal to ensure proper drainage and fertility. For optimal growth, ensure the soil is rich in organic matter and maintains even moisture without becoming waterlogged.

  • plantRepotting

    Goat willow is typically planted outdoors and doesn't require repotting. It grows rapidly and is better suited for naturalization in the landscape where it has room to spread.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Goat willow prefers outdoor conditions with natural humidity and doesn’t require specific humidity levels to thrive. It is adaptable to a wide range of outdoor humidity conditions found in its growing zones.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Goat willow is large for indoor growth; use bright, indirect light and ample space.

    • Outdoor

      Plant Goat willow in full sun to partial shade, moist soil.

    • Hardiness zone

      4-8 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Salix caprea, commonly known as goat willow or pussy willow, begins its life as a seed, scattered by wind or water, which germinates in spring when temperatures rise and moisture is abundant. The seedling emerges with a pair of leaves, quickly establishing a root system and beginning vegetative growth, which can be quite rapid in favorable conditions. As the plant matures, it develops a woody stem and a branching structure, entering a phase of vegetative maturity where leaves are produced each spring, followed by catkins, the plant's flowering structures, which are important for pollination and subsequent seed production. After pollination, usually by bees, the plant produces fruits called capsules that split open to release numerous tiny seeds. The goat willow can also reproduce vegetatively through cuttings or when branches come into contact with soil, allowing roots to form in a process called layering. With a lifespan that can exceed several decades, the goat willow eventually reaches senescence, where growth slows, and the plant may succumb to environmental stresses or diseases.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time


    • Salix caprea, commonly known as goat willow, can be propagated through cuttings, which is a popular method due to its simplicity and effectiveness. The best time to take cuttings is in late fall or winter when the tree is dormant. To do this, select a healthy branch and make a cutting of about 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 centimeters) long, cutting at a 45-degree angle just below a bud. The lower leaves should be removed, and the cut end can be dipped in rooting hormone to encourage root growth. The cutting should then be placed in a pot with moist potting soil or directly into the ground where you intend for the tree to grow. It's important that the soil remains consistently moist until the cutting is well-rooted, which typically takes a few weeks.