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Click to read about how to identify Willows.

Salix exigua
Salix exigua (Sandbar Willow, Coyote Willow)
Salicaceae (Willow Family)

Semi-desert, foothills, montane. Streamsides, pond borders, irrigation ditches. Spring, summer.
Near Yellowjacket Canyon, July 4, 2010.

Sandbar Willow is very common at lower elevations in the Four Corners area.  Its seeds are easily carried by the winds and any moist area is almost certain to sprout Salix exigua.  Once established, Salix exigua spreads easily from underground roots and forms thickets.

"Exigua" is Latin for "short", as the plant typically grows to just two or three meters tall, but it can grow to ten meters tall.

Thomas Nuttall collected the first specimens of this plant for science in 1834 on the banks of the Columbia Rover.  Nuttall named and described the plant in 1842.

Salix exigua

Salix exigua (Sandbar Willow, Coyote Willow)
Salicaceae (Willow Family)

Semi-desert, foothills, montane. Streamsides, pond borders, irrigation ditches. Spring, summer.
Near Yellowjacket Canyon, July 4, 2010.

Leaves of Salix exigua are long, narrow, shiny green on top, and slightly lighter green underneath.  Leaf edges may have a few minute teeth.

Salix exigua

Salix exigua

Salix exigua

Salix exigua





Salix exigua (Sandbar Willow, Coyote Willow)
Salicaceae (Willow Family)

Semi-desert, foothills, montane. Streamsides, pond borders, irrigation ditches. Spring, summer.
Near Yellowjacket Canyon, July 4, 2010.

 

As pointed out at the top of this page, to identify Willows one often needs to know whether the flowers appear before (precocious), with (coetaneous), or after (serotinous) leaves appear.  Salix exigua flowers may be coetaneous and serotinous. 

 

Willows are dioecious, i.e., male flowers appear on one plant and female on another.

 

 

The top photograph shows the male flowers with the indented anthers at the top of the slender filaments.

 

 

The next three photographs show the fertilized female flowers. 

 

 

First the fertilized and closed female with numerous green/yellow capsules containing the hairs and seeds;

 

 

then many female seed catkins are shown in various stages of development;

 

 

and the last photograph shows one catkin with capsules erupted into a fluff of hairs ready to carry the seeds (to which they are attached);

 

 

and finally at the right side of the last photograph are the yellow/orange walls of the seed capsules curled back after the hairs and seeds have been dispersed by the wind.

Salix exigua

Salix exigua (Sandbar Willow, Coyote Willow)
Salicaceae (Willow Family)

Semi-desert, foothills, montane. Streamsides, pond borders, irrigation ditches. Spring, summer.
Near Yellowjacket Canyon, July 4, 2010.

New twigs are yellow to brown-red.  Older stems are gray to yellow.

Salix exigua

Salix exigua (Sandbar Willow, Coyote Willow)
Salicaceae (Willow Family)

Semi-desert, foothills, montane. Streamsides, pond borders, irrigation ditches. Spring, summer.
Near Yellowjacket Canyon, July 4, 2010.

Once established by seeds, Salix exigua spreads rapidly from root sprouts into moist areas and forms dense thickets.  Such thickets form excellent habitat for a number of birds and mammals.

Salix exigua

Salix exigua (Sandbar Willow, Coyote Willow)
Salicaceae (Willow Family)

Semi-desert, foothills, montane. Streamsides, pond borders, irrigation ditches. Spring, summer.
Near Yellowjacket Canyon, June 1, 2015.

Galls are almost omnipresent on S. exigua and are primarily, if not exclusively, the result of the midge, Rabdophaga strobiloides.

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 exigua