Salix caprea ssp sphacelata   Goat Willow RR DD N

Salix caprea ssp sphacelata whole Salix caprea ssp sphacelata leaf

Salix caprea (Goat Willow) is one of commoner willows but this sub species is far less common. We were shown this tree on our way up Cronkly Fell told that the obvious Willow was actually subspecies sphacelata. This is characterised by many adpressed silky hairs on the tops of the young leaves as well as underneath although Stace only mentions the hairs underneath. In fact this silky hairiness on top of the leaf fooled a fair number of early botanists into thinking that Salix caprea ssp sphacelata was actually Salix lanata (Woolly Willow). Sphacelata is Latin for gangrene which is supposed to refer to the brownish rotting appearance of the leaf tips. The leaves are actually rather manky green colour too so Gangrene Willow seems a most appropriate name. There were no fruits or flowers to be seen at this time of year but a plant with a story like this has to be included.

Salix caprea ssp sphacelata is uncommon anywhere in the British Isles but mostly has a northerly distribution. Apart from a few sites in Norfolk and in northern England most records are Scottish with just one from Wales. It is not known from Ireland.

By Cronkly Bridge, Teesdale 21st June 2005

Added on 1st October 2005, updated 26th January 2012

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