Crack Willow (Salix fragilis)
Small and rapid growing, Crack Willow pollards have lived as long as 1000 years across the UK. Unpollarded, they tend to split open under their own weight. Evelyn, writing in the 17th century when it was also known commonly as "sally" or "wully", thought the roots slower growing but deeper than other salix. There are an enormous number of species in the genus, of which apparently 27 are native to the UK. Crack willow is one of the biggest. Salix root easily and typically need wet conditions. They are useful hedge plants too in these conditions, where they will establish and grow on very quickly. They hybridise freely.
Value For Wildlife
They seem to be second only to the oaks in terms of dependent species, which include several small mammals. The Crack Willow is dioecious - male and female flowers appear on separate trees. Crack Willow male flowers are in the form of yellow catkins, which are an important source of early pollen and nectar for bees in the critical period of early spring, and are a food source for the caterpillars of the Comma.
Willow pollards are a defining characteristic of traditional lowland river and wetland landscapes like the Somerset Levels, and their rapid regrowth has led to biomass experimentation - we include them in our trees for wood fuel collection. Like other willows, Salix fragilis can be used for weaving.
Plants For Sale
Provenance certificates are available on request for our Crack Willows, which are from the Southwest of England.
Suppliers: Perrie Hale Forest Nursery
Your purchase of Crack Willow helps us support a range of charities, which are related to the products we sell.
See our planting and size guide for details and tips on planting. Our Crack Willow trees are all bare root, and are consequently available for delivery from November until March. During the lifting season there may be up to two week's delay between placing the order and dispatching, due to weather conditions or pressure of orders, which are dealt with in date sequence. Orders for Salix fragilis placed between March and September are confirmed in October ready for dispatch from November.
Time to Ultimate Height
Over 20 years
Clay, loam, sand
Sheltered or exposed