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Goat Willow (Sallow) Salix caprea (Salicaceae) HEIGHT to 12m. Depending on its situation this may be a multi-branched, dense, shrubby tree, or a taller tree with a straight, ridged stem and sparsely domed crown. SHOOTS Thick, stiff twigs are hairy at first, but become smoother and yellowish-brown with age. If the twigs have the bark peeled off they are smooth. (Compare with Grey Willow.) LEAVES Large, up to 12cm long and oval, with a short twisted point at the tip. The upper surface is dull green and slightly hairy, the lower surface is noticeably grey and woolly. The leaf margins have small, irregular teeth, and the short petiole sometimes has 2 ear-like sinuous stipules at its base. REPRODUCTIVE PARTS Male and female catkins, on separate trees, appear before the leaves, often very early in the spring in sheltered places. Measuring up to 2.5cm long, they are ovoid and covered with greyish silky hairs before opening; at this time, Goat Willow is often called ‘Pussy Willow’ because the silky-grey buds bear a fanciful resemblance to cats’ paws. When they open, the male catkins become bright yellow. Female catkins are greener and produce numerous silky-haired seeds. STATUS AND DISTRIBUTION A widespread and common native species in Britain and Ireland, occurring in woods, hedgerows and scrub, and often in drier places than other similar species.