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Book cover - Common Weeds of New ZealandAn Illustrated Guide to
Common Weeds
of New Zealand


Salix cinerea
grey willow


Reproduced from
Common Weeds of New Zealand
by Ian Popay, Paul Champion & Trevor James
ISBN 0 473 09760 5
by kind permission of the
New Zealand Plant Protection Society

Publication or other use of images or descriptive text on these pages is unauthorised unless written permission is obtained from the authors and publisher.
Appropriate acknowledgement of the publication Common Weeds of New Zealand must always be given.

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Salix cinerea - grey willow

Salix cinerea - grey willow
Shrub or small tree up to 7 m high, but often only 1-2 m. Catkins appear in spring, before the leaves. Leaves shiny on the upper surface, covered with soft grey hairs underneath. Often forms the dominant vegetation in swampy areas.

  • Flowers Catkins appear in spring before the leaves. Separate male and female catkins, each cylindrical, 15-35 mm long. Flowers Sep-Oct.
  • Fruit Capsule with two valves, containing many tiny seeds.
  • Leaves Shining on upper surface, grey underneath due to cover of soft grey hairs. Leaves 2-7 cm long by 15-35 mm wide. Leaves not bitter to the taste.
  • Stems Bark rather smooth. Shoots not brittle. They are grey or greenish-grey and remain hairy, or are reddish to dark purple and often become smooth.


Swamps, river-banks and wet areas behind coastal dunes.


In many places from North Auckland southwards, especially Waikato, Bay of Plenty and the east of SI. Originally from Europe, western Asia, north Africa.


Introduced in the early period of European settlement and widely planted in many wet areas for soil reclamation and stabilisation. Often forming the dominant vegetation in swampy areas. Listed on the National Pest Plant Accord (see Introduction for details).

Derivation of botanical name

Salix (Lat.) = willow; cinerea (Lat.) = ash-coloured.

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Web-notes: Weed Links

On this site

Reproduced from Common Weeds of New Zealand:

External Links

WeedbustersWeedbusters New Zealand
Weedbusters is a weeds awareness and education programme that aims to protect New Zealand's environment from the increasing weed problem.
A free tool to assist farmers and agricultural professionals in decision-making regarding weed and pest identification, biology, impact and management.
Weed keyNew Zealand Weeds Key
An interactive identification key to the weeds of New Zealand. Developed at Landcare Research.

New Zealand Plant Conservation Network naturalised plants
Search for information on more than 2500 naturalised and weedy plants.
NZ Plant Protection SocietyNew Zealand Plant Protection Society
Their main objective: "To pool and exchange information on the biology of weeds, invertebrate and vertebrate pests, pathogens and beneficial organisms and methods for modifying their effects."
Massey UniversityMassey University Weeds Database
A site providing information about New Zealand weeds and weed control. It has a series of pages showing pictures of New Zealand weeds, notes on identification and control. It also provides information on a university paper entitled Controlling Weeds.

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Last updated: March 1, 2021