Silvery flowers, resembling 1" long bottlebrushes, bloom in late winter. The flowers provide pollen for native bees very early in the season and are conspicuous because they bloom on bare stems, before leaves appear. Finches, grouse and cardinals find the flower buds tasty. Several different butterflies use the blue-green leaves as a larval food source. If planted in dense clumps, this multi-stemmed shrub provides good cover and nesting sites for a variety of birds.
Provides pollen for native bees
Food source for game and song birds
Host plant for a large variety of butterflies
Provides cover and nest sites for a variety of birds
Host plant for mourning cloak, viceroy moths and butterflies
Cut branches can be forced to flower for winter arrangements
Swamps and other wet, open ground; Newfoundland to Alberta south to Montana, South Dakota, Missouri and Delaware.
The pussy willow, like all willows, provides a compound called 'salicin' which is similar to the active ingredient in most over-the-counter painkillers. Native North Americans extracted it from the bark and roots for a painkiller and anti-fever medication.
Plant in full sun. Grows well in most soil, including wet, poorly drained areas. Good for low areas where other plants won't live. Will spread by suckers and colonize an area. Can be severely pruned after flowering.