White wooly on underside
The leaves are oval,
alternate and up to 12 cm long.
They are approximately 1.5-2 times as long as broad, dull green and
thinly hairy above but densely white-hairy below. They have a prominent
network of veins and an undulate, bluntly
toothed margin. The leaf-stalks are 8-25 mm long, with a pair of small,
ear-shaped, leaf-like stipules where
they join the stem, though these soon fall off.
Goat Willow is
a deciduous shrub or small tree,
with a rough fissured bark, up to 10 m high. It branches from the
base to form an open, rounded crown. A willow which often grows well
away from water, in oak-ash woods and hedgerows on neutral and lime-rich
Male and female
flowers are in catkins which appear
before the leaves on separate trees (dioecious)
in March or April.
are 2-3 cm long and are erect on the stem. The oval male catkins
are densely hairy with blackish scales
and a mass of bright yellow anthers.
The female catkins are longer, greener
and more slender.
The stems below
the bark on young twigs are marked by vertical lines (striae).
The male catkins
are full of nectar and pollen, which provides food for early bees.
The leaves are
eaten by the caterpillars of Common Quaker, Sallow Kitten and Puss
When the opening
of the male catkins coincides
with Palm Sunday, branches may be used to decorate churches in Britain