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SPECIES:  Salix geyeriana
Geyer willow in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah. Wikimedia Commons image By Andrey Zharkikh from Salt Lake City, USA.


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: []. Updates: On 31 January 2018, the common name of this species was changed in FEIS to Geyer willow, and the distrbution map was added.
ABBREVIATION: SALGEY SYNONYMS: NO-ENTRY NRSCS PLANT CODE: SAGE2 COMMON NAMES: Geyer willow silver willow TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name of Geyer willow is Salix geyeriana Anderss. [15,34]. Hitchcock and Cronquist [27] recognize two varieties of Geyer 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 willow [9]. 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 [9]. Geyer willow may also hybridize with Sitka willow (S. sitchensis) in British Columbia [6]. LIFE FORM: Tree, Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS: No special status OTHER STATUS: NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Salix geyeriana
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Geyer 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].
Distribution of Geyer willow. 1976 USDA, Forest Service map digitized by Thompson and others [56].
   FRES20  Douglas-fir
   FRES21  Ponderosa pine
   FRES23  Fir - spruce
   FRES28  Western hardwoods
   FRES29  Sagebrush
   FRES34  Chaparral - mountain shrub
   FRES35  Pinyon - juniper
   FRES36  Mountain grasslands
   FRES37  Mountain meadows

     AZ  CA  CO  ID  MT  NV  OR  UT  WA  WY

    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

   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

   206  Engelmann spruce - subalpine fir
   210  Interior Douglas-fir
   211  White fir
   216  Blue spruce
   217  Aspen
   218  Lodgepole pine
   237  Interior ponderosa pine
   239  Pinyon - juniper


Geyer 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 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 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
presented below:

   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
OR: Deschutes,
 Ochoco, Fremont & 
 Winema NF's          riparian zone assoc.     Kovalchik 1987
UT, se ID             riparian cts             Padgett & others 1989

Unpublished theses and dissertations describing Geyer 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 [49]. Geyer willow is palatable to livestock, but its importance in their diets has been infrequently reported. In southwestern Montana, Geyer willow made up 11.2 percent of cattle summer browse [14]. Elk and moose eat Geyer willow, especially in winter. Over a 3-year period near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the amount of Geyer willow leaders removed by moose browsing was 39, 47, and 25 percent, respectively [28]. Geyer willow is also used heavily by moose in Yellowstone National Park [10,39] and in the Uinta Mountains of Utah [44], and moderately in southwestern Montana [14]. In a northwestern Montana study, elk ate moderate amounts of Geyer willow during the winter [20]. Willows in general are preferred food and building material of beaver [1]. Willow shoots, catkins, buds, and leaves are eaten by ducks and grouse, other birds, and small mammals [2,22]. PALATABILITY: Geyer willow is relished by livestock [51]. Livestock and wild ungulates apparently prefer Geyer willow over Drummond willow, Wolf willow (Salix wolfii), and Booth willow [5,39]. Geyer willow is highly palatable to moose [45], and is highly palatable to elk in northwestern Montana [20]. In Oregon, palatability of Geyer willow to livestock, big game, and beaver is moderately high [31]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE: Geyer willow stems collected in late November near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, had the following nutritional values [28]: (percent composition) crude protein ether extract crude fiber nitrogen free extract 6.84 6.23 27.22 52.69 COVER VALUE: Geyer willow often occurs in widely spaced clumps, allowing for easy access and movement of livestock and large wildlife species [44]. In Oregon, Geyer willow communities provide excellent habitat for deer [30]. Geyer 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 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 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 [47]. 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 [47] and McClusky and others [38]. 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 [41]. Native Americans also used flexible willow stems for making baskets, bows, arrows, scoops, fish traps, and other items [31]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: Geyer 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 [25]. Many Geyer willow communities have a long history of overgrazing, which has resulted in the replacement of native grasses and sedges with bluegrasses [30]. Overuse also results in soil compaction, streambank sloughing, and damage to willows and other vegetation [24]. Prolonged overbrowsing of Geyer willow results in poor vigor and decadence, indicated by uneven stem age distribution, a hedged or clubbed appearance, and dead plants [30]. Decadent plants will recover from overbrowsing with 5 to 6 years of rest [30].


SPECIES: Salix geyeriana
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Geyer 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 [9]. Male and female flowers occur on separate plants in erect catkins [6,9]. The fruit is a two-valved capsule. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM: Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES: Geyer 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) [22]. At maturity, the fruit splits open, releasing the seed. Each seed has a cottony down that aids in dispersal by wind and water [8]. Seeds are dispersed during the growing season and remain viable for only about 1 week [8]. 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 [8]. Exposed mineral soils are the best seedbed [22]. Germination and/or seedling establishment is generally inhibited by litter [22]. Vegetative reproduction: Geyer willow sprouts from the root crown or stembase if aboveground stems are broken or destroyed by cutting, flooding, or fire [22]. 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 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 [54]. 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 tridentata) [24,44,54]. Water relations: Geyer 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) [44]. Soils: Geyer 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 [44]. Associates: On very wet sites, Geyer 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 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 Communities slot. Elevation: Geyer willow is found in the mountains at moderately low to upper elevations. In Utah, Geyer willow grows at a variety of elevations, but it is most common at lower elevations in broad valleys [44]. In Oregon, it is generally found at low to middle elevations [30], and in Montana at middle to upper elevations [23]. Elevational ranges for Geyer willow are presented below: from 5,000 to 7,000 feet (1,525-2,134 m) in Arizona [29] from 5,000 to 10,500 feet (1,524-3,200 m) in California [42] from 4,000 to 8,000 feet (1,219-2,438 m) in east central Idaho [9] from 3,700 to 7,800 feet (1,128-2,377 m) in southwestern Montana [24] from 6,500 to 8,500 feet (1,981-2,591 m) in Nevada [36] from 3,100 to 5,900 feet (945-1,798 m) in southwestern Oregon [30] SUCCESSIONAL STATUS: Geyer 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 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 [42] CO May-July [13] UT June-July [13] WY May-August [13] Geyer willow began dispersing seeds on July 1 in east-central Oregon [43].


SPECIES: Salix geyeriana
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS: Geyer willow sprouts from the root crown following top-kill by fire [31]. Its abundant wind-dispersed seed may be important in colonizing burned areas [31]. Fire is probably relatively infrequent in the meadow and streamside habitats Geyer willow occupies. In fact, riparian areas frequently act as fire breaks. However, under dry conditions, riparian habitats can burn severely [12]. FIRE REGIMES: Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". 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 [55]. Less severe fires only top-kill willows. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT: NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE: Top-killed Geyer 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 willow's sprouting ability [5]. There is no specific documentation of Geyer willow seedling establishment following fire. However seedling establishment by other willows has been observed following fire on moist, mineral soils [52]. Geyer 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 exposed [53]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE: NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: Prescribed fire can be used to rejuvenate decadent Geyer willow [5]. Following fire, 5 or more years are required before stems reach browse-resistant size [30]. Geyer 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 [30].


SPECIES: Salix geyeriana
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