Salix purpurea (Purple Osier Willow)
|Price £ each (ex. VAT)|
Bareroot from November to April
The prices above are offered as a guide and may be subject to fluctuation dependant upon the time of season and supply. We recommend that contact is made with the office for larger orders, a quotation and to check availability Alternatively please contact us to enquire about opening a wholesale account.
The Purple Osier, or Willow, is an attractive, fast-growing native deciduous shrub with a spreading, bushy habit. Its arching stems are a pronounced reddish purple, giving it year-round interest. The slender leaves are glossy green, with a blue-ish underside, and are seen to best advantage in windy situations when the whole plant brings life and movement to the garden. It makes excellent waterside planting.
Site and soil
Waterside and coastal sites. Does well on sandy and chalky soils as long as they don’t dry out. Tolerant of wet and salty soils, and good in exposed conditions.
Height and spread
After 10 years: 5m x 5m
After 20 years: 5m x 5m
Leaf and bark
The leaves are narrow with a glossy upper surface, blue-grey beneath to 8cm. The bark is smooth, and an attractive reddish purple on young shoots, fading to pale grey as they age.
Flower, seed and fruit
The flowers are silvery-green catkins, about 3cm long, produced in late winter before the leaves appear. The male catkins have conspicuous purple anthers which turn to yellow. The female catkin ripens to a bristly spike, releasing tiny wind-borne seeds in early summer; they need moist soil to germinate.
Screening, windbreak, specimen shrub, waterside planting, coppicing. The Purple Osier is one of the willows grown commercially to produce withies for basket-making and fencing. The first aspirin, still a very effective painkiller was derived from willow bark.
Good for stabilising wet banks and waterside sites. Early pollen and nectar for bees. Supports a number of butterflies and moths, including the Eyed Hawk Moth and the Herald Moth.
The best stem colour is produced on young shoots, so cut back about one-third of the shrub to ground level each winter. Commercial coppicing is carried out in winter.