Salix purpurea L.

Purple Osier

Sp. Pl. 1017 (1753) APNI

Taxonomic status:Accepted

Occurrence status:Present

Establishment means:Naturalised

Shrub to 5 m high with numerous (to c. 100) densely clumped stems, typically very erect, crown ultimately widely spreading; bark smooth, pale grey-brown; twigs glabrous, very slender, often widely branching, often opposite or subopposite; buds glabrous, dark purplish-brown. Leaves often opposite or subopposite, linear, linear-lanceolate or oblanceolate, 2.5–11 cm long, 0.5–2 cm wide, soon glabrous, dull dark green above, somewhat paler beneath, thin-textured; base cuneate; apex acute; stipules very small, narrowly oblong-acute, mostly absent. Catkins male or female, appearing before leaves, sessile, cylindric, erect or suberect, often slightly curved, 1–4 cm long, males 6–7 mm wide, females 3–4 cm wide; catkin-scales 1–2 mm long, blackish-purple except at base; stamens 2, filaments united throughout; ovary hairy, 1–1.5 mm long. Capsule narrowly ovoid, 4–4.5 mm long. Flowers Sep.–Oct.

*HNF, *HSF, *VRiv. Also naturalised NSW, Tas. Indigenous in Europe eastwards to Siberia, also northern Africa and central Asia to Japan. Naturalised in New Zealand, Canada, USA. Noted along stream-banks near Cann River and the Strathbogie Ranges where planted to a limited extent for erosion control, poorly collected but apparently rare in Victoria.

Vegetative reproduction is limited; abundant seed is set in some locations and populations are expected to expand.

Salix ×sordida A. Kern., a hybrid between S. purpurea and S. cinerea, is widespread in Europe (Meikle 1984) and could be expected in Victoria.

Source: Carr, G.W. (1996). Salix. In: Walsh, N.G.; Entwisle, T.J. (eds), Flora of Victoria Vol. 3, Dicotyledons Winteraceae to Myrtaceae. Inkata Press, Melbourne.
Updated by: Val Stajsic, 2018-03-20
Hero image
Distribution map
life Life
kingdom Plantae
phylum Tracheophyta
superorder Rosanae
order Malpighiales
family Salicaceae
genus Salix
Higher taxa


Source: AVH (2014). Australia's Virtual Herbarium, Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, <>. Find Salix purpurea in AVH ; Victorian Biodiversity Atlas, © The State of Victoria, Department of Environment and Primary Industries (published Dec. 2014) Find Salix purpurea in Victorian Biodiversity Atlas
  Bioregion Occurrence status Establishment means
Victorian Riverina present naturalised
Highlands-Southern Fall present introduced
Highlands-Northern Fall present introduced

State distribution

Distribution map
New South Wales
Australian Capital Territory