The Chinese Willow (Salix matsudana), also known as the Hankow Willow or Globe Willow, is a tree or shrub native to northwestern China. The species is named in honour of Sadahisa Matsudo, a Japanese botanist.
Many botanists treat Salix matsudana as a synonym of the Peking Willow (Salix babylonica), which despite its botanical name is also native to northern China. The only reported difference between the two is that S. matsudana has two nectaries in each female flower, whereas S. babylonica has only one; however this character is not reliable in many willows (e.g. Crack Willow can have either one or two).
It is a medium-sized to large deciduous tree, growing up to 20-25 m tall. It is upright and grows rapidly, but has a short lifespan. It has narrow, light green leaves, around 4-10 cm long and 1-2 cm broad. The flowers are catkins produced early in the spring; it is dioecious, with the male and female catkins on separate trees.
- 'Austree' - Very fast growing, generally used for screens
- 'Tortuosa' (Corkscrew Willow) - Twisted, spiralling stems and branches, sometimes grown for florists' materiel.
- 'Golden Curls' - A hybrid with Salix alba selected for disease resistance.
- 'Scarlet Curls' - A hybrid with Salix alba selected for disease resistance.
- 'Navajo' - A hybrid with Salix alba selected for disease resistance.
Chinese Willow has been introduced into many areas as an ornamental tree, including Australia, Europe and North America. It is also planted for erosion control on streambanks, and as a source for pulp and lumber.
The corkscrew willows are grown as a florists' crop.
Fast growth and weak wood mean that the plant should be pruned regularly to avoid breakups in wind storms. The plant can be coppiced or pollarded.
Propagagtion is primarily through cuttings or Stake Planting.
For floral uses, the branches are generally cut in the winter, as the leaves are not considered ornamental. The branches will leaf out in the vase if not properly dried out before use.
Pests and Diseases
This species is very susceptible to canker and wind damage. See Salix for an extensive list of pests and diseases.