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Satiny Willow (Salix pellita)

Life history

Species overview

Satiny Willow (Salix pellita), a Wisconsin Endangered plant, is found on sand and gravel shores in Wisconsin. Elsewhere in the Great Lakes region it is found along sandy river banks and rock splash pools. Blooming occurs throughout May; fruiting occurs throughout June. The optimal identification period for this species is early June through early September.

Synonyms: Salix chlorophylla var. pellita; S. obovata; S. seriocarpa; S. sitchensis var. pellita


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Twigs notably waxy-white. This genus is notoriously difficult to distinguish to the specific level when not in flower.
  • Flower characteristics: Unisexual catkins (also called aments) early-developing, sessile or on bracteate peduncles to 1 cm; pistillate catkins 2 to 5 cm. Style 0.8 to 1.2 mm.
  • Fruit characteristics: Lanceolate, 4 to 6 mm, sessile or subsessile, silky.
  • Leaf characteristics: Alternate, lance-linear to lanceolate or linear-oblanceolate, 4 to 13 cm long by 8 to 22 mm wide, gradually tapering to a sharp point forming concave sides along the tip, almost smooth with subimpressed veins above, waxy-white and densely satiny-silky beneath, becoming almost smooth; primary lateral veins numerous, closely parallel, diverging at a wide angle.


  • Blooming phenology: throughout May
  • Fruiting phenology: throughout June
  • Optimum time to identify: The optimal identification period for this species is early June through early September


  • Growth form: Shrub
  • Vegetative reproduction:
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Ammophila breviligulata, Lathyrus japonicus, Epilobium angustifolium, Acer rubrum.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Satiny Willow (Salix pellita). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Salix pellita in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusEND
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS1
Global RankG5
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found on sand and gravel shores in Wisconsin. Elsewhere in the Great Lakes region it is found along sandy river banks and rock splash pools.
  • Soils: Gravelly or alluvial soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Satiny Willow. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Natural communities score
Great Lakes Beach 3

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Satiny Willow. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Ecological landscape score
Superior Coastal Plain 3

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.
  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • Avoid disturbance to shorelines and the forest-beach interface.
  • Avoid any activities which destabilize the dune, including the use of off-road vehicles, removal of native vegetation and pedestrian recreational overuse.


Satiny Willow Photo.

Photo © Emmet Judziewicz.

Satiny Willow Photo.

Photo ©  Saine.

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Wednesday, May 05, 2021
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition