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Salix caprea
Goat willow

Goat willow (Salix caprea) is a small deciduous tree or large shrub that can grow up to 10 m high. Its natural distribution in Europe ranges from Southern Norway to Eastern Spain and includes the United Kingdom. It is also found in temperate Asia and in Syria. The plant’s leaves are oval unlike the long and thin leaves of many willow species.  

The species can be managed in coppice and the branches used for basket making. The plants are also valued as windbreaks or shelterbelts and the wood can be used for good quality charcoal. In forest plantings, the species works as a fine pioneer species that usually gets naturally outcompeted. The catkins provide pollen and nectar for bees earlier than most other plants and the tree forms an important source of food for various insects and birds.

Salix caprea is able to crossbreed with a few other Salix species. Like most other willows, it can propagate itself by lowering its leaves to the ground and developing roots.

The species prefers full sun and is usually found in damp rich forests, swamps, hedgerows, shores, ditches and generally near water sources.

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