Salix matsudana

Dragon's Claw Willow




  • native to China
  • zone 5, warmer parts of 4

Habit and Form

  • medium sized deciduous tree
  • rounded shape
  • 40' to 50' tall
  • with similar width
  • fine texture
  • fast growth rate

Summer Foliage

  • alternate leaf arrangement
  • lanceolate, simple leaves
  • serrated leaf margins
  • bright green leaf color
  • smooth leaf top, glabrous leaf bottom

Autumn Foliage

  • yellow-green
  • not ornamentally important


  • male flowers showy


  • not ornamentally important


  • stems are yellowish in youth
  • stems mature into on olive-green or brown
  • glabrous


  • fast growing
  • easily transplanted form containers are B&B
  • prefers moist soil
  • prefers to grow along water sources
  • full sun
  • pH adaptable
  • short lived
  • salt tolerant

Landscape Use

  • good tree for wet sites
  • for unusually branching effect
  • for medium texture
  • for flowers
  • for salt tolerance


  • numerous insect and disease problems
  • suckers
  • short-lived

ID Features

  • olive-green branches
  • alternate leaf arrangement
  • serrated leaf margins
  • generally found on wet sites
  • flowers bottle-brush like


  • by cuttings
  • by seed


'Golden Curls' - This hybrid plant is more shrubby than 'Tortuosa', with distinctive yellowish stems that are contorted and twisted. It often is shrubby in habit, though it may form a small tree with semi-pendulous branches. The leaves are also curled on this plant.

'Navajo' (probably the same as 'Umbraculifera') - This plant forms a medium-sized tree with a broad, rounded crown. It can grow to 40' tall and wide.

'Pendula' - This tree has weeping branches and bright green young stems.

'Snake' - Marketed as an improved form of 'Tortuosa', this plant is said to possess greater branch contortions and disease resistance. The two plants appear difficult to distinguish, however.

'Tortuosa' - Known as the "Dragon's Claw Willow", this is a rather popular tree that possesses strongly twisted and coiled branches. It can form a rounded-irregular tree 30' tall, and the young stems are yellowish. Among the plants grown for contorted growth, this is perhaps the most vigorous.

© Copyright Mark H. Brand, 1997-2015.

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Citation and Acknowledgements: University of Connecticut Plant Database,, Mark H. Brand, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Storrs, CT 06269-4067 USA.