As with all willows, plants are either male or female. Flowers cluster in fuzzy bundles; botanically speaking, these are called catkins, but they also suggest the nickname "pussy willow." Male flowers - shown here lightly dusted - open to display their yellow, pollen-producing anthers. At the base of each flower are glands that secrete a sweetly scented nectar, attracting insects, such as bees and moths, which carry the pollen to female flowers if they are nearby. Hardy to zone 6, Salix caprea 'Kilmarnock' (also called Salix caprea 'Pendula') must be staked up or grafted onto an upright willow, or it will happily grow flat on the ground. With more than 30 years experience in horticulture in B.C. – in wholesale, retail and at VanDusen Botanical Garden for a decade – Carolyn Jones brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to GardenWise and www.gardenwiseonline.ca as staff horticulturist.
Credit: Carolyn Jones