Brittle Willow
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Brittle Willow
D Introduced Photo: Shakir Ahmad
Common name: Brittle Willow, Crack willow • Kashmiri: Kaeshir virr ﻛﻴﺸﺮ ﻭﺋﻴﺮ
Botanical name: Salix x fragilis    Family: Salicaceae (Willow family)
Synonyms: Salix x pendula, Salix x excelsa, Salix x palustris

Brittle Willow is a medium-sized to large deciduous tree, which grows rapidly to 10-20 m tall, with a trunk up to 1 m in diameter, often multi-trunked, and an irregular, often leaning crown. The common name derives from the twigs which break off very easily and cleanly at the base with an audible crack. Broken twigs and branches can take root readily, enabling the species to colonise new areas as broken twigs fall into waterways and can be carried some distance downstream. The bark is dark grey-brown, coarsely fissured in older trees. The lanceshaped leaves are bright green, 9-15 cm long and 1.5-3 cm wide, with a finely sawtoothedd margin; they are very finely hairy at first in spring, but soon become hairless. The flowers are produced in catkins in early spring, and pollinated by insects. They are dioecious, with male and female catkins on separate trees; the male catkins are 4-6 cm long, the female catkins are also 4-6 cm long, with the individual flowers having either one or two nectaries. In late spring fruit capsules release numerous small cotton-clustered seeds. Brittle Willow is native to Turkey, cultivated in India and elsewhere.

Identification credit: Shakir Ahmad Photographed in Kashmir.

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