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Coyote Willow · Salix exigua

Description: Also known as Sandbar Willow, this upright, deciduous shrub grows 12 ft. tall and 15 ft. wide, forming dense thickets and spreading by underground stems in creek bottoms in sagebrush country. It has gray-green, linear leaves, 2-6 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. Look for the dense catkins (pussy willows) in spring when the leaves emerge. Coyote willow grows well on sandy soil.The native plant gardener will appreciate its tolerance for wet and dry conditions, as well as its wildlife values. As with many other willows, it helps control erosion and shades fish habitat when planted near water, its stems and foliage are enjoyed by deer and rabbits, small game-birds and songbirds eat the catkins and buds and the insects that live among the leaves and branches, butterflies and bees enjoy its nectar, and some native butterfly larvae use willows as their host plant. Sun, regular water.

Lewis and Clark described this willow in detail, along with a specimen collected: "No.13.The narrow leaf willow taken on the 14th of June[1804]... this tree is invariably the first which makes it's appearance on the newly made Lands on the borders of the Mississippi and Missouri, and seems to contribute much towards facilitating the operation of raisin this ground still higher; they grow remarkably close and some instances so much so that they form a thicket almost impenetrable the points of land which are forming {sandbars] allways become eddies when overlown in high water these willows obstruct the force of the water and makes it more still which causes the mud and sand to be deposited in greater quantities;the willow is not attal imbarrassed or injured by this inundation,but puts forth an innumerable quantity of small fibrous roots...which further serve to collect the mud...this willow never rises to any considerable sise,it is seldom seen larger than a mans arm, and scarcely every rises higher than 25 feet...and is generally used by the watermen for setting poles [used to propel the boats] in preference to anything else...these willow bars form a pleasant beacon to the navigator."