Salix exigua Nutt.

=Salix hindsiana var. leucodendroides

Salicaceae (Willow Family)


Narrow-Leaved Willow

Sandbar Willow

                                            June Photo



Plant Characteristics:  Erect shrub or small tree, 2-7 m. high, with gray furrowed bark; clonal by root sproutings; young twigs gray-tomentose; lvs. linear to lance-linear, tapering at both ends, remotely denticulate, gray silky-villous to subtomentose, 50-124 mm. long; petioles 1-3 mm. long, not glandular; stipules wanting or small, to arcuate-lanceolate and 8 mm. long on sucker shoots; catkins appearing after the lvs., 2-4 cm. long, on leafy peduncles; stamens 2, with pubescent fils.; scales villous; caps. subsessile, 5-6 mm. long, villous-tomentose; style ca. 0.5 mm. long; stigmas 1 mm. long.


Habitat:  Common along ditches, sand bars, etc., below 3000 ft.; many cismontane Plant Communities; San Diego to Ventura cos. and to cent. Calif.  March-May.


Name:  Salix, the classical name of willow.  (Bailey 318).  Hindsiana may be after some person?  Greek, leukos, white and Greek, dendron, tree.  (Jaeger 78,140).  The foliage appears grayish green due to the silky pubescence.  (John Johnson).       Latin, exiguus, short, small.  (Jaeger 99).


General:  Occasional in the study area with a single colony in each of the following locations:  Along the Delhi Ditch; on an alluvial sand bar on the path between Delhi and 23rd St; in the Santa Ana Heights area below the horse and bike path and at Eastbluff North. Photographed in the first two locations.  (my comments).      The largest and most complex architectural achievements of the Calif. Indians were by the Kuksu cult which used "round houses" for their ceremonies.  These were performed by spectacularly costumed dancers.  The Maidu, Paturn, Pomo and other neighboring tribes shared in the cult.  The purpose of the cult appears to have been to renew the world each year and guarantee the continuance of the natural foods (animals and plants) that supported men.  The roundhouses varied in size but the large ones were 50-60 ft. in diameter, round in ground plan and partly underground.  Four or six oak center posts, about 1 ft. in diameter were set up.  Oak stringers were laid horizontally on the center posts.  Radiating out to the edge of the pit were heavy rafters of cottonwood, Populus fremontii, and willow, Salix spp. on which were laid a thatch of cottonwood boughs, willow branches, grass and then an earth covering.  The stringers and rafters were tied together with flexible grapevines, Vitis californica, which tightened as they dried.  (Heizer and Elsasser 38,40).       Interviews with North Fork Mono, Chukchansi Yokuts, Central and Southern Miwok individuals reveal that the severe pruning (coppicing) of plants is still conducted today.  The technique is mainly applied to shrubs for the collection of branches for basketry materials.  Some of the species still coppiced include: redbud (Cercis occidentalis), deerbrush (Ceanothus integerrimus), sourberry (Rhus tribolata), red willow (Salix melanopsis), and sandbar willow (Salix hindsiana).  Each of these plants responds to pruning by vigorously sprouting new shoots from dormant or adventitious buds.  The result is increased numbers of long, straight, slender switches with inconspicuous leaf scars, and no lateral branching.  These are the characteristics most valued by basketmakers.  This contrasts with a wild shrub which has mottled, cracked bark and twisted branches that are forked and often brittle.  (Anderson, M. Kat.  "California Indian Horticulture."  Fremontia, A Journal of the California Native Plant Society.  Vol. 18 No. 2. April 1990  pp. 7-14).     The values of Willow lie in the glycosides salicin and populin, as well as the ever present tannin.  Its uses are many, but most specifically in the reduction of inflammations of joints and membranes.  Useful for headache, fevers, neuralgia, and hay fever.  Most of our plants are not particularly potent and a fair amount of bark or stem is needed.  Up to an ounce a day can be consumed in tea if needed. (Moore, Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West 161).      S. exigua was used by Indians to make animal figurines used in hunting rituals.  (Campbell 346).       A genus of 300 or more spp., mostly temp. and colder.  (Munz, Flora So. Calif. 773).       Plants with spreading hairs on leaves and twigs, slender stigmas 0.6-1 mm., and +/- entire leaves from throughout California have been called S. hindsiana; these features vary independently; the type of S. hindsiana does not share them all. Such forms may be derived from S. exigua x S. sessilifolia; further study is needed.  (Hickman, Ed. 997).        S. hindsiana var. leucodendroides indistinct from S. exigua.  (Hickman, Ed. 1353).      See S. discolor, S. gooddingii, S. discolor, the Pussy Willow and S. lasiolepis for more information on willow uses.  (my comment).


Text Ref:  Hickman, Ed. 997; Mason 402; Munz, Calif. Flora 913; Munz, Flora So. Calif. 774.

Photo Ref:  Feb 3 84 # 13,14; April 1 84 # 20; April 04 # 11A.

Identity: by R. De Ruff, confirmed by F. Roberts.

First Found:  February 1984.

Computer Ref:  Plant Data 272

Have plant specimen.

Last edit 10/27/04.  


                              February Photo                                                                February  Photo