Index of Species Information
SPECIES: Salix planifolia
SPECIES: Salix planifolia
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION :
Uchytil, Ronald J. 1991. Salix planifolia. 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/ .
Salix planifolia var. planifolia Pursh
Salix phylicifolia ssp. planifolia (Pursh) Hiitonen
Salix phylicifolia var. pennata (Ball) Cronq.
SCS PLANT CODE :
COMMON NAMES :
The scientific name of tea-leaf willow is Salix
LIFE FORM :
FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS :
No special status
OTHER STATUS :
DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE
SPECIES: Salix planifolia
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION :
Tea-leaf willow grows from the southern Yukon Territory south to
California and New Mexico, and east across boreal Canada to eastern
Canada and New England . It is restricted to mountainous terrain in
the western United States.
FRES11 Spruce - fir
FRES23 Fir - spruce
FRES26 Lodgepole pine
CA CO ID ME MN MT MI NV NH NM
OR SD UT VT WA WY AB BC LB MB
NF NT ON PQ SK YT
BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :
2 Cascade Mountains
4 Sierra Mountains
8 Northern Rocky Mountains
9 Middle Rocky Mountains
10 Wyoming Basin
11 Southern Rocky Mountains
12 Colorado Plateau
15 Black Hills Uplift
16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands
KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :
K008 Lodgepole pine - subalpine forest
K012 Douglas-fir forest
K015 Western spruce - fir forest
K052 Alpine meadows and barren
K055 Sagebrush steppe
K093 Great Lakes spruce - fir forest
K094 Conifer bog
SAF COVER TYPES :
12 Black spruce
37 Northern white cedar
201 White spruce
204 Black spruce
206 Engelmann spruce - subalpine fir
210 Interior Douglas-fir
218 Lodgepole pine
256 California mixed subalpine
SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES :
HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES :
Tea-leaf willow dominates low-statured shrub communities in
high-elevation, wet mountain meadows. These are major wetland types of
alpine and subalpine zones [22,34]. At lower elevations it is generally
less abundant, and intermixed in shrubby riparian communities dominated
by other willows.
Published classifications listing tea-leaf willow as a dominant in
community types (cts), habitat types (hts), dominance types (dts), or
site types (sts) are presented below:
Area Classification Authority
nw CO: White River- grassland, shrubland, Hess & Wasser 1982
Arapaho NF and forested hts
e ID, w WY riparian cts Youngblood & others 1985
MT riparian dts Hansen & others 1988
sw MT riparian sts, cts, hts Hansen & others 1989
e, c MT riparian cts, hts Hansen & others 1990
w-c MT wetland cts Pierce & Johnson 1986
UT, se ID riparian cts Padgett & others 1989
SPECIES: Salix planifolia
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE :
All classes of livestock eat willows (Salix spp.), but cattle consume
more than others because they frequent riparian areas . Tea-leaf
willow's importance in livestock diets has been infrequently reported.
In southwestern Montana, it made up 4.8 percent of cattle summer browse
In southwestern Montana and in Yellowstone National Park, moose eat
large amounts of this willow in the winter and small amounts in the
summer [10,30,44]. Consumption by elk and mule deer is generally low
. Ungulate use of the low-statured variety monica is limited in the
winter because it is often covered by snow .
Willows in general are a preferred food and building material of beaver
. Ducks, grouse, other birds, and small mammals eat willow shoots,
catkins, buds, and leaves [2,17].
Most willows are palatable to livestock and big game [2,45]. In the
West, willows are generally more palatable to sheep than to cattle.
Palatability increases as the growing season advances . Tea-leaf
willow is highly palatable to moose but is apparently less palatable to
elk and deer [10,44,47].
NUTRITIONAL VALUE :
COVER VALUE :
Tea-leaf willow occurring in montane and subalpine riparian communities
provides excellent nesting and foraging habitat for a variety of birds,
such as ducks, shorebirds, warblers, vireos, and sparrows [12,14].
Nesting sandhill cranes frequently used low-statured tea-leaf willow
cover in Idaho . Tea-leaf willow branches overhanging streambanks
provide cover and shade for salmonids .
VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES :
Tea-leaf willow is recommended for use in revegetating disturbed
riparian areas, and is especially useful for streambank stabilization.
It is usually planted as rooted or unrooted stem cuttings .
Tea-leaf willow stems contain predeveloped root primordia. Stem
cuttings develop roots along the entire length of the buried portion
within about 10 to 15 days after planting . Because it roots
quickly, unrooted tea-leaf willow cuttings may be planted on sites
sufficiently moist to start and maintain growth [31,38]. 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 McCluskey (and
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, stomach ache, 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 :
Because this willow usually grows on wet sites that are easily trampled
by livestock, packstock, hikers, campers, big game, and off-road
vehicles, trails and roads should be located on nearby uplands .
Tea-leaf willow becomes decadent or stunted when overbrowsed by cattle
or wild ungulates and beavers. Decadent plants recover relatively
rapidly when browsers are excluded .
BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS
SPECIES: Salix planifolia
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS :
Tea-leaf willow is a small-to medium-sized deciduous shrub.
The bark is gray and smooth . The flowers occur in
about 1- to 2-inch-long (2.5 cm), erect catkins on the previous year's
RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :
REGENERATION PROCESSES :
Tea-leaf 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 and releases 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 occurs as soon as the seed is moistened.
Germination occurs within 24 hours of dispersal if a moist seedbed is
reached . Exposed mineral soils provide the best seedbed .
Litter inhibits germination .
Vegetative reproduction: Tea-leaf willow sprouts from the root crown
or stem base if aboveground stems are broken or destroyed by cutting,
flooding, or fire . Detached stem fragments form adventitious roots
if they remain moist; portions of stems will root naturally if buried in
moist soil .
SITE CHARACTERISTICS :
Tea-leaf willow occupies different habitats.
At high elevations, it grows in middle and upper
subalpine zones dominated by Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii),
subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa), and lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta)
and in alpine zones above timberline. It commonly forms thickets along
stream and lake margins, in wet meadows and seep areas, and on slopes
kept moist by melting snow [2,7,22,30]. These sites are usually wet,
with water tables at or near the surface [7,34]. Soils may be mineral
or organic. Mineral soils are clayey-, silty-, or sandy-textured and
overlain by a shallow, organic surface layer . On marshy sites peat
may be up to 12 inches (30 cm) or more thick [22,30]. Associates
include Wolff willow (Salix wolfii), undergreen willow (S. commutata),
Drummond willow (S. drummondiana), grayleaf willow (S. glauca), bog
birch (Betula glandulosa), water sedge (Carex aquatilis), beaked sedge
(C. rostrata), mountain sedge (C. scopulorum), tufted hairgrass
(Deschampsia cespitosa), bluejoint reedgrass (Calamagrostis canadensis),
marshmarigold (Caltha leptosepala), heartleaf bittercress (Cardamine
cordifolia), and arrowleaf groundsel (Senecio triangularis)
Tea-leaf willow also occurs at middle elevations in the West, primarily in
the Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and sagebrush (Artemisia spp.)
zones . It generally occurs scattered in other willow-dominated
communities along the banks of streams, ponds, and lakes and in wet
meadows and marshes. Associated willows in the West include Geyer
willow (S. geyeriana), Drummond willow, and Bebb willow (S. bebbiana)
. Soils are usually mineral, with textures varying from sands to
clays . Water tables are often near the surface in the spring, but
may drop to more than 39 inches (1 m) by midsummer . In Ontario,
this variety grows in cool, moist habitats along lakes and streams, in
black spruce (Picea mariana) bogs, northern white-cedar (Thuja
occidentalis) swamps, and marshes .
Elevational ranges for several western states are presented below
State Elevational Range
CA from 8,000 to 12,500 feet (2,440-3,811 m)
CO from 8,000 to 13,000 feet (2,440-3,963 m) (var. monica)
c ID above 8,000 feet (2,440 m) (var. monica)
c ID from 5,500 to 7,700 feet (1,677-2,348 m) (var. planifolia)
MT from 3,700 to 10,200 feet (1,128-3,109 m)
SD, Black from 5,000 to 6,500 feet (1,524-1,982 m)
UT from 7,400 to 12,000 feet (2,255-3,660 m)
WY from 6,500 to 11,500 feet (1,982-3,506 m)
SUCCESSIONAL STATUS :
Tea-leaf willow often forms relatively stable communities maintained by
high water tables and high elevation climates [22,34]. In Colorado,
high-elevation tea-leaf willow communities are considered climax
wetland communities . These communities can experience successional
shifts if water tables change. If sites become permanently drier, Wolff
willow and grasses will increase . Tea-leaf willow often
persists in communities dominated by other willows. These communities
are relatively stable and maintained by high water tables or seasonal
flooding . Tea-leaf willow is shade intolerant.
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT :
Tea-leaf willow flowers appear in the spring before or sometimes with
the leaves [2,43]. Flowering and seed maturation dates are as follows:
Location Flowering Seeds mature Reference
California June to August 
(low elevations) May 19-June 27
(high elevations) July 9-July 31 
Ontario May and June June and July 
North & South Dakota May June 
SPECIES: Salix planifolia
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS :
Most willows sprout from the root crown following top-kill by fire
[35,48]. Tea-leaf willow's wind-dispersed seeds may be important in
colonizing burned areas.
The wet meadow and streamside habitats tea-leaf willow occupies rarely
burn. In fact, these riparian areas frequently act as fire breaks.
However, under dry conditions, riparian habitats can burn severely .
POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :
survivor species; on-site surviving root crown 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 planifolia
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT :
Willows 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 :
There is no specific documentation of tea-leaf willow sprouting
following fire. However, sprouting following top-kill by fire is common
in the genus Salix. Quick, hot fires generally result in numerous
sprouts per willow plant. Slow-burning fires result in fewer sprouts
because these fires often burn down into the roots, reducing the plants'
sprouting ability .
Tea-leaf willow seedling establishment following fire has not been
documented, although other willows have been observed to do so when
moist mineral soils are present. Tea-leaf 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 upon the season of burn, on the
weather, and on the amount of mineral soil exposed .
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE :
FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS :
Prescribed fire can be used to rejuvenate decadent willows .
Tea-leaf willow primarily occupies wet, poorly drained sites that may
be difficult to burn until they dry out in late summer or fall.
SPECIES: Salix planifolia
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