Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Salix glauca


SPECIES: Salix glauca
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Uchytil, Ronald J. 1992. Salix glauca. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].
ABBREVIATION : SALGLA SYNONYMS : Salix pseudolapponum Seemann SCS PLANT CODE : SAGL SAGLA SAGLV COMMON NAMES : grayleaf willow gray willow gray-leaved willow glaucous willow white willow TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of grayleaf willow is Salix glauca L. [3,18]. Because it exhibits considerable geographic variation across its extensive range, it has been divided into numerous varieties or subspecies. Argus [3] recognizes three varieties: Salix glauca var. villosa (Hooker) Anderson Salix glauca var. acutifolia (Hooker) Schneider Salix glauca var. glauca Alternately, Hulten [18] recognizes four subspecies: Salix glauca subsp. acutifolia (Hook.) Hult. Salix glauca subsp. callicarpaea (Trautv.) Bocher Salix glauca subsp. desertorum (Richards.) Anderss. Salix glauca subsp. glabrescens (Anderss.) Hult. LIFE FORM : Tree, Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : Grayleaf willow is ranked as a critically endangered plant in Idaho and Washington under The Nature Conservancy's Natural Heritage ranking system [43].


SPECIES: Salix glauca
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Grayleaf willow grows throughout most of Alaska except for the Aleutian Islands and along the southeastern coast [35]. It grows through much of northern Canada from Newfoundland northwest to the northern Yukon Territory, and south to southern British Columbia and Alberta. In the contiguous United States, it grows in alpine and subalpine habitats in Montana, Wyoming, eastern Idaho, Colorado, Utah, and northern New Mexico [10]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES11 Spruce - fir FRES23 Fir - spruce FRES44 Alpine STATES : AK CO ID MT NM UT WY AB BC LB MB NB NT ON PQ SK YT BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 8 Northern Rocky Mountains 9 Middle Rocky Mountains 10 Wyoming Basin 11 Southern Rocky Mountains KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K015 Western spruce - fir forest K052 Alpine meadows and barren SAF COVER TYPES : 12 Black spruce 107 White spruce 201 White spruce 204 Black spruce 206 Engelmann spruce - subalpine fir 251 White spruce - aspen 253 Black spruce - white spruce SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : In Alaska and northwestern Canada, grayleaf willow dominates or codominates numerous seral willow (Salix spp.) and mixed-shrub floodplain communities. Riparian community associates include Alaska willow (S. alaxensis), littletree willow (S. arbusculoides), Richardson willow (S. lanata), diamondleaf willow (S. planifolia), and green alder (Alnus crispa) [34]. It also codominates in some mixed-shrub tundra communities with birches (Betula spp.), alders (Alnus spp.), and other willows [34]. In the Rocky Mountain States, grayleaf willow/tufted hairgrass (Deschampsia cespitosa) communities occupy well-drained, open alpine and upper subalpine habitats [20,27]. Grayleaf willow occurs as scattered individuals in many boreal forests and woodlands. It is seldom an understory dominant, except in early seral stages. Douglas [11], however, described a 130- to 160-year-old white spruce (Picea glauca)/grayleaf willow community in southwestern Yukon Territory. Classifications listing grayleaf willow as a dominant in community types (cts) and habitat types (hts) are presented below: Area Classification Authority AK general veg. cts Viereck & Dyrness 1980 sw YT montane veg. cts Douglas 1974 CO: Gunnison & general veg. hts Komarkova 1986 Uncompahgre NF UT, se ID riparian cts Padgett & others 1989 Forest Service R-2 forest, shrub, grass Wasser & Hess 1982 & forb hts


SPECIES: Salix glauca
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Grayleaf willow is a moderately important moose browse in some areas primarily because of its abundance [11,29]; in other areas it is poorly utilized [14,25]. Caribou use is probably moderate at best, and primarily in the summer [7]. In some areas, grayleaf willow makes up a large part of the winter diet of snowshoe hares [31]. Willows are generally a preferred food and building material of beaver [1]. Willow shoots, catkins, leaves, and buds are eaten by numerous small mammals and birds [16]. PALATABILITY : In interior Alaska, grayleaf willow is less palatable to moose than Alaska willow, littletree willow, diamondleaf willow, or sandbar willow (S. interior). Moose browse grayleaf willow lightly in comparison with the others in areas where they grow together [25]. Grayleaf is more palatable to moose than aspen (Populus tremuloides), balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera), or paper birch (Betula papyrifera) [38]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Grayleaf willow is a relatively high-quality food for wintering ungulates. Winter stem crude protein content is about 6.4 percent. Grayleaf willow is also a good source of calcium and phosphorus, and its digestibility is relatively high [29,30]. COVER VALUE : In thickets grayleaf willow may provide cover for small animals, but its small stature limits its value as cover for large mammals. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Densmore and Zasada [8] reported that under laboratory conditions grayleaf willow stem cuttings taken in the fall or spring rarely produce roots and, therefore, do not recommend planting grayleaf willow stem cuttings for rehabilitation purposes. However, grayleaf willow stem cuttings were successfully used to revegetate unstable sand dunes in northern Alberta [42]. Seeding disturbed sites with this species may be a useful establishment measure. Grayleaf willow has been observed naturally invading barrow pits and mine tailings in arctic regions [19,35]. The seeds may be stored for up to 3 years, and require cold stratification before sowing [40,41]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : All willows produce salacin, which is closely related chemically to aspirin. Native Americans used various preparations from willow to treat tooth ache, stomach ache, diarrhea, dysentery, and dandruff [26]. Native Americans also used flexible willow stems for making baskets, bows, arrows, scoops, snares, and fish and muskrat traps [17,21]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Grayleaf willow is tolerant of heavy browsing [42].


SPECIES: Salix glauca
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Grayleaf willow commonly grows as an erect shrub 3 to 4 feet (0.9-1.2 m) tall. On exposed tundra sites it grows as a low, semiprostrate shrub, and on favorable sites it sometimes grows up to 20 feet (6 m) in height and 5 inches (12 cm) in diameter [35]. The bark is gray and smooth but may become rough and furrowed on larger individuals. Male and female flowers occur on separate plants in 3/4- to 2-inch-long (2-5 cm) catkins that persist over the summer. The fruit is a 1/32- to 1/16-inch-long (0.8-1.6 mm) two-valved capsule [35]. Two growth forms occur in the Rocky Mountains. In somewhat sheltered locations in subalpine environments, plants are upright and taller, while semiprostrate plants that are often difficult to distinguish from arctic willow (S. arctica) grow in more exposed, alpine situations [10]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Grayleaf willow's primary mode of reproduction is sexual. It produces an abundance of small, lightweight seeds. Like most willows, it probably begins seed production at an early age (between 2 and 10 years) [16]. Seeds are not shed as they ripen but remain on the plant throughout the summer and are dispersed in the fall. Each seed has a cottony down which aids in dispersal by wind and water. Unlike willow seeds dispersed in summer, grayleaf willow seeds overwinter under snow and germinate in the spring soon after snowmelt [9,41]. This cold stratification promotes good germination; seeds germinate over a wide range of temperatures (from 41 to 77 degrees F [5-25 C]) [9]. Spring germination is advantageous in arctic and alpine environments; the growing season of grayleaf willow seedlings is 3 to 6 weeks longer than that of summer-dispersing willows [9]. Exposed mineral soils are required for good germination and seedling establishment [16]. Forest litter generally inhibits germination and establishment. Vegetative Reproduction: Grayleaf willow sprouts from the root crown or stembase if aboveground stems are broken or destroyed by cutting or fire [16]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : In Alaska and northern Canada, grayleaf willow grows on both uplands and lowlands. In arctic tundra it often grows along river and streambanks, on sandy and gravelly floodplains, and on old benches [3,35]. In boreal environments, it grows as scattered shrubs in white and black spruce (Picea mariana) woodlands, in black spruce muskegs, and on river floodplains [3,35]. In the Rocky Mountains grayleaf willow is restricted to open, alpine and subalpine habitats that commonly have rocky, well-drained soils [10,27]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Grayleaf willow is an early seral species. It pioneers freshly deposited river alluvium, glacial outwash, and disturbed areas with exposed mineral soil, such as road cuts and mine tailings [35]. It is also common in spruce woodlands following fire, especially in stands about 20 to 30 years old [14,23]. It has been found in 160-year-old open spruce woodlands [11], but it is usually displaced in densely forested stands because of its shade intolerance. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Grayleaf willow catkins appear with the leaves. In Alaska and the Yukon, flowering generally occurs in June, the fruits ripen in July and August, and the seeds are dispersed in late August and September [9,35].


SPECIES: Salix glauca
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Grayleaf willow is a fire-adapted species. Most plants sprout from the root crown following top-kill by fire. Viereck and Schandelmeier [36] reported that even old, decadent willows sprouted prolifically immediately after fire. The sprouting ability of willows is apparently more vigorous and prolific than that of birches or alders [36]. Grayleaf willow's abundant, wind-dispersed seeds are important in colonizing burned areas. Seeds are dispersed in the fall, overwinter under snow, and germinate in the spring. Thus seedling establishment cannot begin until postfire year 2. 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 glauca
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Grayleaf willows that occur in white and black spruce forests can be killed by severe fires that completely remove soil organic layers and char the roots [39]. Less severe fires only top-kill plants. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Grayleaf willow is one of the most abundant willows following fire in white spruce forests of interior Alaska [14]. There are commonly several thousand stems per acre by 10 years after fire. However, its abundance is short-lived, and it is often absent by year 40 as dense white spruce sapling stands develop [14]. Grayleaf willow is also common on mesic black spruce sites after fire. One ll-year-old burn near the Tanana River had about 4,700 grayleaf, Alaska, and diamondleaf willow stems per acre (11,500/ha), and lesser amounts of spruce and poplar [38]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : Fire severity can affect the mode of willow postfire recovery. Following light fires most willows recover quickly, sending up new shoots from undamaged root crowns. Few if any seedlings establish following this type of burn because organic soil layers are only partially consumed, which prevents seedling establishment. Following severe fires, however, the primary mode of recovery is seedling establishment. Severe fires that burn deep into organic soils kill willows but expose mineral soils, which provide excellent seedbeds. For information on prescribed fire and postfire responses of many plant species, including grayleaf willow, see this Research Project Summary: FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Salix glauca
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