Known as the Goat willow or Pussy willow, Salix caprea is native to Europe, Western and central Asia. This tree’s species name ‘caprea’ means goat and was derived from the fact that the leaves were used as goat fodder. This small to medium-sized deciduous tree can reach a mature height of about 10m.

Salix caprea is characterised with alternate, broadly elliptic leaves that are 5-12cm long. The upper side of the leaf is green and glossy, while the underside is covered by densely and soft white-downy hairs. The tree is known for its spreading, upright stems, colourful autumn leaves and striking, furry catkins. The catkins appear in late winter to early spring and stand out on the bare stems before leaves appear. These blooming branches are widely used for decoration. This willow naturally hybridises with a number of other Salix species, producing fertile offspring with intermediate characteristics.

Although Salix caprea is sensitive to continuous flooding, it tolerates a wide range of soil and climatic conditions. Due to its wide distribution range and high ecological amplitude, the Goat willow represents a very valuable multi-purpose species, used principally for biomass plantation and for gardening and hedges. This tree also has medicinal value as its extracts are used as a painkiller, astringent, antiseptic, eye tonic or even to treat malaria.