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Tea-leaved Willow (Salix planifolia ssp. planifolia)

Life history

Species overview

Tea-leaved Willow (Salix planifolia ssp. planifolia), a Wisconsin Threatened plant, is found near Lake Superior, including on bedrock shorelines in the Apostle Islands. Blooming occurs throughout May; fruiting occurs throughout June. The optimal identification period for this species is early June through early September.

Synonyms: Salix chlorophylla, Salix monica, Salix nelsonii, Salix pennata, Salix phylicifolia, Salix pychnocarpa


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Fruit subsessile, the pedicels mostly less than 1 mm; leaves smooth by the time they are fully expanded; style mostly 1 to 1.5 mm. This genus is notoriously difficult to distinguish to the specific level when not in flower.
  • Flower characteristics: Catkins (also called aments) unisexual; pistillate catkins with sessile and pubescent ovaries; styles .5 to 1.5 mm long; staminate catkins with 2 filaments and yellow anthers, developing on branchlets with green bracts.
  • Fruit characteristics: Lanceolate, 4 to 7 mm. Finely covered with long, silky hair. Subsessile, pedicels only 0.1 to 0.5 mm.
  • Leaf characteristics: Alternate, crowded, narrowly elliptic, elliptic-oblanceolate, or narrowly obovate, 3 to 8 cm long by 1 to 3.5 cm wide, acute at both ends or the largest obtuse at the base, smooth and glossy above, sparsely silky-hairy to waxy-smooth beneath; margins entire or may sometimes be slightly toothed; primary lateral veins numerous, closely spaced.


  • 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: Salix discolor, Thuja occidentalis, Betula papyrifera, Sorbus decora, Epilobium angustifolium, Solidago hispida, Campanula rotundifolia, Spiraea alba, Agrostis hyemalis.

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 Tea-leaved Willow (Salix planifolia ssp. planifolia). 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 planifolia ssp. planifolia in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusTHR
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS2
Global RankG5T5
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 near Lake Superior, including on bedrock shorelines in the Apostle Islands.
  • Soils: Wet, rocky soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Tea-leaved 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
Shrub Carr 2
Great Lakes Beach 1
Clay Seepage Bluff 1
Bedrock Shore 3

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Tea-leaved 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
Northwest Lowlands 2
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

  • Follow BMPs, especially around streams and use care near ravines, steep slopes, cliffs, rock outcrops, etc.
  • Avoid disturbance to shorelines and the forest-beach interface.
  • Minimize disturbance to hydrology, including soil disturbance from rutting.


Tea-leaved Willow Photo.

Photo © Mary Ellen Harte,

Tea-leaved Willow Photo.

Photo © Steve Garske.

Tea-leaved Willow Photo.

Photo © Steve Garske.

Tea-leaved Willow Photo.

Photo © Steve Garske.

Tea-leaved Willow Photo.

Photo © Steve Garske.

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