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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Salix arctica
Arctic Willow foliage and male catkins
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Salicaceae
Genus: Salix
Species: S. arctica
Binomial name
Salix arctica

Salix arctica (Arctic Willow) is a tiny creeping willow (family Salicaceae). It is adapted to survive in harsh Arctic and subarctic environments, and has a circumpolar distribution round the Arctic Ocean. It grows in tundra and rocky moorland, and is the northernmost woody plant in the world, occurring far above the tree line up to the northern limit of land on the north coast of Greenland. It also occurs further south in North America on high altitude Alpine tundra south to the Sierra Nevada in California and the Rocky Mountains in New Mexico, and in Asia to Xinjiang in China.[1][2][3]

It is typically a low shrub growing to only 1–15 cm (0.39–5.9 in) in height (rarely to 25 cm (9.8 in) high), however in the Pacific Northwest it may reach 50 cm (20 in) in height,[4] and has round, shiny green leaves 1–4 cm (0.39–1.6 in) long and broad, rarely up to 8 centimetres (3.1 in) long and 6 cm (2.4 in) broad; they are pubescent, with long silky, silvery hairs. Like the rest of the willows, Arctic Willow is dioecious, with male and female catkins on separate plants. As a result the plant's appearance varies; the female catkins are red-coloured, while the male catkins are yellow-coloured.[2][5]

Despite its small size, it is a long-lived plant, growing extremely slowly in the severe Arctic climate; one in eastern Greenland was found to be 236 years old.[2]

Hybrids with Salix arcticola and Salix glauca are known.[2]


The Arctic Willow is a food source for several Arctic animals. Muskox, caribou, Arctic Hare and lemmings all feed on the bark and twigs while the buds are the main food source of the ptarmigan.

Both the Inuit and the Gwich’in make use of the Arctic Willow. Twigs would be used as fuel, while the decayed flowers (Suputiit) could be mixed with moss and used as wicking in the kudlik. The plant was used for several medicinal purposes, such as relieving toothache, helping to stop bleeding, curing diarrhoea and indigestion and used as poultice on wounds. Both the Gwich’in and Inuit, in the Bathurst Inlet area were known to eat parts of the Arctic Willow which is high in vitamin C and tastes sweet.[6]


  1. ^ Germplasm Resources Information Network: Salix arctica
  2. ^ a b c d Salicaceae of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago: Salix arctica
  3. ^ Flora Europaea: Salix arctica
  4. ^ Salix arcticaPDF
  5. ^ Jepson Flora: Salix arctica
  6. ^ Flora of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, S.G. Aiken, M.J. Dallwitz, L.L. Consaul, C.L. McJannet, L.J. Gillespie, R.L. Boles, G.W. Argus, J.M. Gillett, P.J. Scott, R. Elven, M.C. LeBlanc, A.K. Brysting and H. Solstad. 1999 onwards. Flora of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago: Descriptions, Illustrations, Identification, and Information Retrieval. Version: 29th April 2003.


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

Salix arctica


Classification System: APG II (down to family level)

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: core eudicots
Cladus: Rosids
Cladus: Eurosids I
Ordo: Malpighiales
Familia: Salicaceae
Genus: Salix
Subgenus: S. subg. Chamaetia
Sectio: S. sect. Diplodictyae
Species: Salix arctica


Salix arctica Pall.


  • Fl. ross. 1(2):86. 1789
  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN) [Data from 07-Oct-06]. 102715

Vernacular names

English: Arctic Willow


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