Grey willow

Grey Willow

©Brian Eversham

Grey willow

Scientific name: Salix cinerea
One of our commonest willows, the Grey willow is a small tree that is found in ditches, reedbeds and wet woodland. It is well-known for its silver, fluffy catkins that give it another name, 'Pussy willow'.

Species information


Height: up to 10m

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


The Grey willow, also known as 'Common sallow', is a small willow tree found in ditches, reedbeds and wet woodland, and on urban waste ground. It is one of the UK's commonest willows and is known for the fluffy, silver-grey male catkins - or 'pussy willows' - that appear in January and turn bright yellow in March.

How to identify

The Grey willow is a small, scrub-forming tree. It has blunt-ended, oval leaves, twice as long as they are broad. Its male catkins are silver-grey, roundish and turn yellow when ripe; its female catkins are green.



Did you know?

Like Goat willow, sprays of Grey Willow were used to decorate churches at Easter. Tradition also suggested that if girls didn't wear a sprig of pussy willow on Palm Sunday, they would get their hair pulled.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many wetland nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way.