Salix babylonica
Common name: 
Weeping Willow
SA-liks bab-i-LON-i-ka
Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon: 
  • Broadleaf, deciduous tree, medium to large in size, usually grows to 30-40 ft  (9-12 m) tall with a similar spread. However, the US National Champion in 2018 was 95 ft tall and 93 ft wide (29 × 28 m).  The stout trunk has grayish black bark that is irregularly furrowed.  The crown is broad and rounded from which thin pendulous branch “weep” toward the ground. These are without hairs except at nodes and reddish- to yellowish-brown in color.  The leaves are alternate, simple, linear-lanceolate, 7.5-15 cm (3-6 inches) long and 1.3-2 cm (0.5-0.75 inches) wide, with finely serrate margins and a long tapered to a point (acuminate); light green above and grayish green below, which in fall may turn greenish-yellow or occasionally gold-yellow.  The plant is dioecious, male and female catkins, about 2 cm long and 0.5 cm wide, appear on separate trees in early spring.

  • Full sun to partial shade, best in moist, acidic soil, but also grows in slightly alkaline conditions, adapts to standing water

  • Hardy to USDA Zone 6  Salix babylonica is not cold tolerant and is not commonly grown in Europe or in northern North America.  Cultivated trees with strongly pendulous branches and branchlets have been identified as S. babylonica, but many are hybrids with S. alba (S. ×sepulcralis) or S. euxina (S. ×pendulina). Salix ×sepulcralis, with bright yellow branchlets, is the most commonly grown of these hybrids. All reported occurrences of S. babylonica need verification.(

  • Little is known about the origin of the strongly weeping cultivar of Salix babylonica. It was described by Linnaeus (1737) based on young garden specimens. It is thought to have originated in China, although it no longer occurs in the wild and its origin is uncertain. Selections are thought to have been transported to Europe along the trade route from China. Taxonomic treatments of S. babylonica are variable. Some botanists recognize a single species, including both pendulous and non-pendulous forms, while others recognize four species: S. babylonica, with a weeping habit, S. capitataS. pseudolasiogyne, and the commonly cultivated S. matsudana, with an erect or spreading habit. Here, S. babylonica is treated in a narrow sense, including only weeping forms.  The above is adapted from the Flora of North America (; see for details.

  • babylonica: of Babylon,   Linnaeus, who described this species, applied this epithet because of a misunderstanding that this willow was the tree described in the Bible in the opening of Psalm 137, “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.  We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. (King James Version, 1611).  However, the trees growing in Babylon along the Euphrates River in ancient Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) are not willows, but the Euphrates poplar Populus euphratica, with willow-like leaves on long, drooping shoots. (Wikipedia) 

The Weeping Willows shown below have not been authenticated as being Salix babylonuca


Click image to enlarge
  • plant habit, spring

    plant habit, spring

  • pendant branches and catkins

    pendant branches and catkins

  • male catkins

    male catkins

  • plant habit, summer

    plant habit, summer