Plant of the Month- March

The March Plant of the Month is... Salix discolor (Pussy Willow)! March is the time of year to keep an eye out for the distinctive fuzzy foliage that is loved for its use in floral design!

The fuzzy nubs that appear on pussy willow branches in later winter are protective coverings for the flowers of the plant. The small hairs help to insulate the reproductive portions of the plant during the cold temperatures in winter. Come early spring, the fuzzy nubs give way to a catkin or a petal-less flower.

Salix discolor catkin

Pussy Willows are classified as dioecious. This means that the male and female reproductive parts are found on different plants. Male pussy willows typically have larger, showier catkins, while female catkins are often smaller and greener than their male counterparts. In order for successful pollination to occur, both female and male plants must be within range for pollinators.

Containerized Salix discolor

Salix discolor serves a very important role in the ecosystem due to its early bloom. Salix discolor is traditionally one of the first blooms to appear in late winter, early spring providing a much needed food source for ravenous pollinators emerging from a cold winter!

Hoping to use pussy willow as a decoration in your house? Make sure to cut it before the catkins bloom. Once you have it in the house, do not place the branches in water as this will allow the branches to bloom. The fuzzy catkins will dry out in the house and will provide you with many years of beautiful decoration.

Native Salix discolor stand

Pussy Willow has become a cultural staple in many celebrations. For the Chinese New Year, the silken catkins and the growth of new green shoots represent the coming of prosperity for the year. In the Christian religions, pussy willows are often substituted for the palms of Palm Sunday in areas of the country which were too cold to have palms.

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