Index of Species Information
SPECIES: Salix geyeriana
SPECIES: Salix geyeriana
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION :
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).
Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ .
SCS PLANT CODE :
COMMON NAMES :
The currently accepted scientific name of Geyer's willow is Salix
geyeriana Anderss. [15,34].
Hitchcock and Cronquist  recognize two varieties of Geyer's willow:
var. geyeriana and var. meliana Henry. However, recent research in
Idaho has shown that plants designated as var. meliana more closely
match descriptions of Lemmon willow (S. lemmonii) than they do Geyer's
willow . Proper identification can be difficult when the two species
grow near each other. In Idaho, these two species are morphologically
and ecologically distinct, but in areas of contact, identification is
complicated by hybridization . Geyer's willow may also hybridize with
Sitka willow (S. sitchensis) in British Columbia .
LIFE FORM :
FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS :
No special status
OTHER STATUS :
DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE
SPECIES: Salix geyeriana
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION :
Geyer's willow occurs from southern British Columbia southward in the
mountains to central California, central Arizona, and southern Colorado.
It is widespread in the Cascades, Sierra Nevada, and northern and
central Rocky Mountains, and is found in scattered mountain ranges in
southern Idaho, eastern Oregon, Nevada, northern Utah, southern
Colorado, and Arizona [33,34].
FRES21 Ponderosa pine
FRES23 Fir - spruce
FRES28 Western hardwoods
FRES34 Chaparral - mountain shrub
FRES35 Pinyon - juniper
FRES36 Mountain grasslands
FRES37 Mountain meadows
AZ CA CO ID MT NV OR UT WA WY
BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :
1 Northern Pacific Border
2 Cascade Mountains
4 Sierra Mountains
5 Columbia Plateau
6 Upper Basin and Range
8 Northern Rocky Mountains
9 Middle Rocky Mountains
10 Wyoming Basin
11 Southern Rocky Mountains
12 Colorado Plateau
13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont
16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands
KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :
K011 Western ponderosa forest
K012 Douglas-fir forest
K015 Western spruce - fir forest
K020 Spruce - fir - Douglas-fir forest
K021 Southwestern spruce - fir forest
K023 Juniper - pinyon woodland
K037 Mountain-mahogany - oak scrub
K052 Alpine meadows and barren
K055 Sagebrush steppe
K063 Foothills prairie
SAF COVER TYPES :
206 Engelmann spruce - subalpine fir
210 Interior Douglas-fir
211 White fir
216 Blue spruce
218 Lodgepole pine
237 Interior ponderosa pine
239 Pinyon - juniper
SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES :
HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES :
Geyer's willow commonly dominates shrubby communities associated with
lower, middle, and upper elevation mountain streams and meadows
[23,30,44,54]. These communities have an "open and clumpy appearance"
or an "open, corridor-like structure". Large patches of Geyer's willow
form the overstory, with lesser amounts of shrubby willow species
intermixed in the openings. Willow associates include Booth willow
(Salix boothii), yellow willow (S. lutea), Bebb willow (S. bebbiana),
planeleaf willow (S. planifolia ssp. planifolia), Drummond willow (S.
drummondiana), and Lemmon willow [5,30,54]. The undergrowth
is often dense, and dominated by sedges (Carex spp.), bluegrasses (Poa spp.), tufted
hairgrass (Deschampsia caespitosa), bluejoint reedgrass (Calamagrostis
canadensis), or mesic forbs [24,30,44,54].
Published classifications listing Geyer's willow as a dominant part of the
vegetation in community types (cts), habitat types (hts), dominance
types (dts), site types (sts), or riparian zone associations are
Area Classification Authority
e ID, w WY riparian cts Youngblood & others 1985a
MT riparian dts Hansen & others 1988
e, c MT riparian cts, hts Hansen & others 1990
w-c MT wetland cts Pierce & Johnson 1986
nw MT riparian hts Boggs & others 1990
sw MT riparian sts, cts, hts Hansen & others 1989
NV riparian cts Manning & Padgett 1989
Ochoco, Fremont &
Winema NF's riparian zone assoc. Kovalchik 1987
UT, se ID riparian cts Padgett & others 1989
Unpublished theses and dissertations describing Geyer's willow communities
Area Classification Author
se OR riparian cts Evenden 1989
OR: Malheur NF riparian cts Padgett 1981
Yellowstone NP wetland cts Brichta 1986
Yellowstone NP wetland hts Mattson 1984
SPECIES: Salix geyeriana
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE :
In the West, all classes of livestock eat willows (Salix spp.), but
cattle probably consume more than others because they tend to frequent
riparian areas . Geyer's willow is palatable to livestock, but its
importance in their diets has been infrequently reported. In
southwestern Montana, Geyer's willow made up 11.2 percent of cattle summer
Elk and moose eat Geyer's willow, especially in winter. Over a 3-year
period near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the amount of Geyer's willow leaders
removed by moose browsing was 39, 47, and 25 percent, respectively .
Geyer's willow is also used heavily by moose in Yellowstone National Park
[10,39] and in the Uinta Mountains of Utah , and moderately in
southwestern Montana . In a northwestern Montana study, elk ate
moderate amounts of Geyer's willow during the winter .
Willows in general are preferred food and building material of beaver
. Willow shoots, catkins, buds, and leaves are eaten by ducks and
grouse, other birds, and small mammals [2,22].
Geyer's willow is relished by livestock . Livestock and wild
ungulates apparently prefer Geyer's willow over Drummond willow, Wolf
willow (Salix wolfii), and Booth willow [5,39]. Geyer's willow is highly
palatable to moose , and is highly palatable to elk in northwestern
Montana . In Oregon, palatability of Geyer's willow to livestock, big
game, and beaver is moderately high .
NUTRITIONAL VALUE :
Geyer's willow stems collected in late November near Jackson Hole,
Wyoming, had the following nutritional values :
crude protein ether extract crude fiber nitrogen free extract
6.84 6.23 27.22 52.69
COVER VALUE :
Geyer's willow often occurs in widely spaced clumps, allowing for easy
access and movement of livestock and large wildlife species . In
Oregon, Geyer's willow communities provide excellent habitat for deer
. Geyer's willow communities also provide excellent nesting and
foraging habitat for a variety of birds, such as ducks and shorebirds,
blackbirds, warblers, vireos, and sparrows [16,19,43].
VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES :
Geyer's willow is recommended for use in revegetating disturbed riparian
areas. It is especially useful for streambank stabilization. It is
usually planted as rooted or unrooted stem cuttings.
Geyer's willow stems contain predeveloped root primordia. Stem cuttings
develop roots along the entire length of the buried portion about 10 to
15 days after planting . Because it roots quickly, it may be
planted as unrooted cuttings on sites with sufficient moisture
throughout the growing season to start and maintain growth [38,47].
Rooted cuttings have higher survival rates than unrooted cuttings.
Procedures and techniques for collecting, preparing, and planting willow
cuttings are described by Platts and others  and McClusky and others
OTHER USES AND VALUES :
All willows produce salacin, which is closely related chemically to
aspirin. Native Americans used various preparations from willows to
treat tooth ache, stomachache, diarrhea, dysentery, and dandruff .
Native Americans also used flexible willow stems for making baskets,
bows, arrows, scoops, fish traps, and other items .
OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS :
Geyer's willow communities are open and easily accessible, and produce
large amounts of forage. They are often heavily used by stock when
nearby uplands become dry . Many Geyer's willow communities have a
long history of overgrazing, which has resulted in the replacement of
native grasses and sedges with bluegrasses . Overuse also results
in soil compaction, streambank sloughing, and damage to willows and
other vegetation . Prolonged overbrowsing of Geyer's willow results
in poor vigor and decadence, indicated by uneven stem age distribution,
a hedged or clubbed appearance, and dead plants . Decadent plants
will recover from overbrowsing with 5 to 6 years of rest .
BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS
SPECIES: Salix geyeriana
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS :
Geyer's willow is larger than many associated shrub willows. It grows as
a large deciduous shrub or small tree sometimes up to 20 feet (6 m)
tall. It is usually found in somewhat open stands, occurring as
well-spaced individuals with numerous, straight, nearly erect stems
arising from a tight basal cluster . Male and female flowers occur
on separate plants in erect catkins [6,9]. The fruit is a two-valved
RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :
REGENERATION PROCESSES :
Geyer's willow's primary mode of reproduction is sexual. It produces an
abundance of small, light-weight seeds. Like most willows, it probably
begins seed production at an early age (between 2 and 10 years) .
At maturity, the fruit splits open, releasing the seed. Each seed has a
cottony down that aids in dispersal by wind and water . Seeds are
dispersed during the growing season and remain viable for only about 1
week . The seeds contain significant amounts of chlorophyll, and
photosynthesis generally begins as soon as the seed is moistened.
Germination occurs within 24 hours of dispersal if a moist seedbed is
reached . Exposed mineral soils are the best seedbed .
Germination and/or seedling establishment is generally inhibited by
Vegetative reproduction: Geyer's willow sprouts from the root crown or
stembase if aboveground stems are broken or destroyed by cutting,
flooding, or fire . Detached stem fragments form adventitious roots
if they remain moist. Thus portions of stems will root if buried in
moist soil. This can occur when stem fragments are transported by
floodwaters and deposited on fresh alluvium [3,22].
SITE CHARACTERISTICS :
Geyer's willow grows in wet meadows and marshes, next to seeps and
springs, and along the borders of low gradient streams and beaver ponds.
It is often somewhat removed from a stream's edge, occurring in broad,
low gradient valley bottoms. It is also frequently associated with
abandoned and sediment-filled beaver ponds . These riparian sites
usually occur in broad montane and subalpine valleys. Adjacent uplands
are dominated by Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii), blue spruce (P.
pungens), subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa), lodgepole pine (Pinus
contorta), ponderosa pine (P. ponderosa), Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga
menziesii), aspen (Populus tremuloides), or big sagebrush (Artemisia
Water relations: Geyer's willow occupies sites that range from wet to
relatively dry, but it rarely grows on sites where the water table is
deeper than 39 inches (1 m) .
Soils: Geyer's willow is usually found on deep, fine-textured mineral
soils of alluvial origin. Near the surface they are often mottled and
have an accumulation of organic material [44,54]. Shallow organic soils
overlying alluvium may develop on wet, marshy, sedge-dominated sites
Associates: On very wet sites, Geyer's willow usually has understories
dominated by beaked sedge (Carex rostrata), water sedge (C. aquatilis),
and/or fowl bluegrass (Poa palustris). On some of the drier sites Geyer's
willow occupies, mesic forbs and Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) are
common. Other common understory associates include wooly sedge (Carex
lanuginosa), Sitka sedge (C. sitchensis), widefruit sedge (C.
eurycarpa), smallwing sedge (C. microptera), Baltic rush (Juncus
balticus), bluejoint reedgrass, and tufted hairgrass [24,30,44,54].
Associated willows are identified in the Habitat Types and Plant
Elevation: Geyer's willow is found in the mountains at moderately low to
upper elevations. In Utah, Geyer's willow grows at a variety of
elevations, but it is most common at lower elevations in broad valleys
. In Oregon, it is generally found at low to middle elevations
, and in Montana at middle to upper elevations . Elevational
ranges for Geyer's willow are presented below:
from 5,000 to 7,000 feet (1,525-2,134 m) in Arizona 
from 5,000 to 10,500 feet (1,524-3,200 m) in California 
from 4,000 to 8,000 feet (1,219-2,438 m) in east central Idaho 
from 3,700 to 7,800 feet (1,128-2,377 m) in southwestern Montana 
from 6,500 to 8,500 feet (1,981-2,591 m) in Nevada 
from 3,100 to 5,900 feet (945-1,798 m) in southwestern Oregon 
SUCCESSIONAL STATUS :
Geyer's willow communities usually occur in broad, open valleys and
meadows with fairly constant water supplies. Communities on these sites
are relatively stable and maintained by seasonal flooding and high water
tables [9,44]. Geyer's willow will not grow and reproduce in shade.
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT :
Flowering dates for some western states are as follows:
location month reference
CA May-June 
CO May-July 
UT June-July 
WY May-August 
Geyer's willow began dispersing seeds on July 1 in east-central Oregon
SPECIES: Salix geyeriana
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS :
Geyer's willow sprouts from the root crown following top-kill by fire
. Its abundant wind-dispersed seed may be important in colonizing
burned areas .
Fire is probably relatively infrequent in the meadow and streamside
habitats Geyer's willow occupies. In fact, riparian areas frequently act
as fire breaks. However, under dry conditions, riparian habitats can
burn severely .
POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :
survivor species; on-site surviving rootcrown or caudex
off-site colonizer; seed carried by wind; postfire years 1 and 2
off-site colonizer; seed carried by animals or water; postfire yr 1&2
SPECIES: Salix geyeriana
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT :
Plants on organic soils may be killed by severe fires which burn deep
into the soil, char the roots, and prevent sprouting . Less severe
fires only top-kill willows.
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT :
PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE :
Top-killed Geyer's willow plants sprout following fire. Quick, hot fires
generally result in numerous sprouts per plant. Slow burning fires
result in fewer sprouts because these fires often burn down into the
roots, reducing Geyer's willow's sprouting ability .
There is no specific documentation of Geyer's willow seedling
establishment following fire. However seedling establishment by other
willows has been observed following fire on moist, mineral soils .
Geyer's willow seeds are dispersed in the summer, remain viable for only
about 1 week, and require moist mineral soil for germination.
Therefore, the degree of seedling establishment following fire depends
on the season of burn, on the weather, and on the amount of mineral soil
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE :
FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS :
Prescribed fire can be used to rejuvenate decadent Geyer's willow .
Following fire, 5 or more years are required before stems reach
browse-resistant size .
Geyer's willow often occurs in wet, poorly drained marshes or swamps.
These sites are difficult to burn until they become dry in the late
summer or fall .
SPECIES: Salix geyeriana
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