Geyer`s Willow - Department of Animal and Rangeland Sciences
Salix geyeriana Anderss.
This native facultative wetland species is a
deciduous monoecious shrub with two varieties
that are recognized by Hitchcock and Cronquist
(6) as geyeriana and meliana. Each variety
is distinct from each other, but cases of
hybridization between Lemmon’s willow and
var. meliana, has indicated identification
troubles. Many willow species, especially
Booth’s willow, are self infertile and freely
hybridizes with other willow species. Willow
bark has aspirin like properties used by Native
Americans to cure many common illnesses.
Form and Stature: Geyer’s willow grows
4-6 m (13-19 ft) tall, although rarely reaching
6 m (19 ft). Young twigs covered with silky
hairs arising from blue-green waxy stems. (2,
Leaves and Stems: Waxy leaves are bore from flat, oval, forward
pointing buds (3). Apparently discolored leaves that white-hairy
beneath and has glabrous to slightly short haired above (6). Mature
leaves, 4-6 times longer than wide, are smooth and fringed with short
Inflorescence: Floral bracts are light yellow to brownish, linear
lance shaped, and densely hairy (3). Male catkins are very small;
female catkins are 1.5-2.5 cm (0.6-1.0 in) long and 6-15 mm (0.20.6 in) wide. Generally aments are creamy white to greenish brown
GENERAL HABITAT CONSIDERATIONS
Soil Types and Conditions: Prefers muddy substrates along banks
of small ponds and wet meadows. Grows well in deep fine textured,
well drained, gravelly loam to stony soils from deposited alluvium
Moisture/temperature requirements: Inhabits banks of low gradient,
slow moving streams, small ponds, wet meadows and riparian stream
benches. Geyer’s willow is abundant on mountain streams, broad
level flood plains and open valleys. Prefers areas of high water
tables, but can tolerate tables lower than 99 cm (39 in), if properly
established. When associated with mesic forbs or graminoids, it can
tolerate periodic gradual water table fluctuations to depths of 1m
(3.3 ft). This shade intolerant willow is found on moderate elevations
of 944-2,743 m (3,100-9,000 ft).
Forage and Palatability: It is an important diet component for
livestock, but records are infrequent and site specific. Although, it
is preferred over Drummond, Wolf and Booth willows.
Wildlife Use: When available, Geyer’s willow is good forage and
Prepared by OSU Rangeland Ecology
and Management, April 2005.
building materials for beavers. Twigs, sprouts, and catkins are
consumed by elk, moose, ducks and grouse during the winter.
Provides excellent cover for deer and small birds. (11)
Salix geyeriana Anderss.
Growth Season and Seedling Establishment: Typically blooms in
May producing many cottony seeds. Establishment by rooted or
unrooted stem cuttings are successful. Rooted cuttings have a higher
survival rate than unrooted cuttings requiring sufficient amount of
moisture for establishment. Willows store carbohydrates in the early
stages of active growth, indicating that prerooted cuttings have more
carbohydrates. In mine reclamation projects, additions of organic
matter in the presence of lime increases root proliferations below the
area of incorporation. The additions increase above ground growth
by 15%, compared to lime only amendments (5). The genus Salix
has a high tolerance of Cd and many other heavy metals.
Propagation: Reproduces sexually. Geyer’s willow reaches sexual
maturity at 2 to 10 years of age. Once seeds are dispersed by wind
or water, germination can occur within 24 hours under favorable
conditions. Seeds need periodic light or fluctuating temperatures for
optimal germination. Optimum germination occurs on exposed moist
mineral beds. (11) Like many willow species, S. geyeriana is
pollinated by bees and dispersed by wind or water.
Response to Grazing: Resprouts from its root crown under proper
grazing conditions. Prolonged over grazing decreases vigor, increasing
decadence, but recovery is possible with at least 5-6 years of rest.
Geyer’s willow reacts to heavy grazing by arrested or retrogressed
stature (7). Excessive grazing will replace Geyer’s willow with
native grasses, sedges and bluegrasses.
Response to Fire: Resprouts from crown after fires.
Response to Drought: Geyer’s willow tolerates drought but a
prolonged low water table affects vigor.
1. Tom Bourque, P.E. 2001. Lower Red River Meadow
Restoration Project. In: University of Idaho, College of Engineering.
2. Brunsfeld, Steven and Fredrich Johnson. 1985. Field Guide
To The Willows Of East-Central Idaho. Bullentin 39. Moscow, Idaho:
University of Idaho, Forest, Wildlife, and Range Sciences. 95p.
3. Cook, Sarah. 1997. A Field Guide to the Common Wetland
Plants of Western Washington and Northwestern Oregon. Seattle:
Seattle Audubon Society. 417p.
4. Davis, Ray J. 1952. Flora of Idaho. Dubuque, IO: WM.C.
Brown Company. 836p.
5. Fisher, K.T. et al. 2000. Interactive affects of soil
amendments and depth of incorporation on Geyer willows. J. Environ.
Qual. 29: 1786-1793.
6. Hitchcock, C. Leo and Arthur Cronquist. 1973. Flora of
the Pacific Northwest. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press.
7. Keigley, Richard B., M.R. Frisina, and C. Fager. 2003. A
method for determining the onset year of intense browsing. J. Range
8. Mettler, Lonnie E. 1998. Lower Snake River Juvenile
Salmon migration feasibility study. US Army of Corps Engineers.
Walla Walla District. /www.nww.usace.army.mil/ [Accessed: April
9. Peale, M. 1996. Best
Management Practices for Wetlands within
Colorado State Parks. Colorado Natural
Areas Program, Colorado State Parks,
Colorado Department of Natural Resources.
Denver, Colorado. 169 p.
10. Thompson, Melissa. 2005. Draft:
Surface water: Beaver-Camas Subbasin
Assessment and total maximum daily loads.
Idaho Department of Environmental quality.
11. Uchytil, Ronald J. 1991. Salix
geyeriana. In: Fire Effects Information
System, [Online]. U.S. Department of
Agriculture, Forest Service,
Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire
Sciences Laboratory (Producer).
[2005, April 14].