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Salix brachycarpa
Salix brachycarpa (Shortfruit Willow, Barrenground Willow)
Salicaceae (Willow Family)

Montane to alpine. Wetlands, openings. Summer.
Columbus Basin, La Plata Mountains, June 22, 2010.

Salix brachycarpa is abundant at subalpine and alpine levels, often forming extensive thickets. The shrub grows in wide-spreading patches to about six feet tall with curving, twisted branches.  It may mix with other Willows.

Salix brachycarpa was first collected for science along the Bear River in Idaho by Thomas Nuttall in 1834 and Nuttall named and described the plant in 1842.

"Brachycarpa" is Greek for "short carpel".

Salix brachycarpa
Salix brachycarpa (Shortfruit Willow, Barrenground Willow)
Salicaceae (Willow Family)

Montane to alpine. Wetlands, openings. Summer.
Columbus Basin, La Plata Mountains, June 22, 2010.

Leaves vary from 1.5-4 centimeters long and from 5-18 millimeters wide.  Pubescence is also quite variable, ranging from glabrous to densely fine hairy.

Salix brachycarpa
Salix brachycarpa (Shortfruit Willow, Barrenground Willow)
Salicaceae (Willow Family)

Montane to alpine. Wetlands, openings. Summer.
Columbus Basin, La Plata Mountains, June 22, 2010.

Male flowers mix with the densely, but finely hairy leaves.  Notice that the bark in the lower center of the photograph is flaking, a characteristic of S. brachycarpa.

Salix brachycarpa

Salix brachycarpa

Salix brachycarpa (Shortfruit Willow, Barrenground Willow)
Salicaceae (Willow Family)

Montane to alpine. Wetlands, openings. Summer.
Columbus Basin, La Plata Mountains, June 22, 2010.

Salix are dioecious, i.e., male flowers are on one plant, female on another. The yellow pollen of the male in the top photograph will pollinate the fuzzy, tubular, red-tipped female styles projecting from the capsules and eventually each capsule will erupt in a fluff of hairs that carry the seeds on mountain winds.

Extensive patches of Salix are common throughout the Four Corners area.  Shown here are the two common montane Salix, S. brachycarpa (light green at left and center of the photograph) and S. planifolia (bright green near person on the right).

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Salix brachycarpa