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Salix arizonica
(Arizona willow)

[taxon report][distribution map][all photos][line drawing]



Family: Salicaceae

Scientific Name: Salix arizonica Dorn

Synonyms: None

Vernacular Name: Arizona willow

R-E-D Code: 1-2-1

Description: Shrub forming a prostrate mat, large hedge, or thicket several centimeters to 3 m tall (typically less than 8 dm tall); leaves petiolate, 1.0-4.5 cm long, 0.5-2.2 cm wide, broadly elliptic to ovate, with rounded or cordate bases, margins finely serrate with gland-tipped teeth, 7-21 (average 16) teeth per centimeter, midrib pubescent, upper leaf surface shiny, lower surface non-glaucous; inflorescence brown, black, or bicolor; floral bracts 1-2.5 mm long, with wavy hairs and acute tips; pistillate catkins densely flowered, 1-4.5 cm long; staminate catkins 5-15 mm long. Flowers late May to June.

Similar Species: Salix arizonica closely resembles the widespread Salix boothii (syn= Salix myrtillifolia, S. pseudocordata). These species are distinguishable in that Salix arizonica has broader leaves with rounded to cordate leaf bases, and more teeth per centimeter than S. boothii.


Distribution: New Mexico, Mora, Rio Arriba, and Taos counties; eastern Arizona, southern Utah, and southern Colorado.

Habitat: Sedge meadows and wet drainage ways in subalpine coniferous forest; 3,050-3,400 m (10,000-11,200 ft).

Remarks: The Arizona willow was proposed for listing as an endangered species with critical habitat in 1992, known at that time only from Mount Baldy in east-central Arizona. New populations discovered in southern Utah in 1994 expanded the known range and the Arizona willow was withdrawn from listing in April 1995. Specimens identified as Salix arizonica (by R. Dorn and D. Atwood) were collected from New Mexico in 1995-1996 (deposited at the University of New Mexico Herbarium), further expanding its range to the north-central mountains of New Mexico.

Conservation Considerations: Plants are impacted by livestock and wildlife browsing, water impoundments and diversions, roads, recreation, development and maintenance of ski resort facilities, disease, alteration of natural hydrologic regimes, changes in the riparian community species composition and structure, and invasion of non-native vegetation brought about by historic and current livestock grazing.

Important Literature (*Illustration):

*Argus, G.W. 1995. Salicaceae Part 2: Salix. Journal of the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science 27:39-62.

*Decker, K. 2006. Salix arizonica Dorn (Arizona willow): A technical conservation assessment. [Online]. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region. Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/projects/scp/assessments/salixarizonica.pdf [accessed September 2011].

Dorn, R.D. 1975. A systematic study of Salix section Cordates in North America. Canadian Journal of Botany 53:1491-1522.

*Prendusi, T., D. Atwood, B. Palmer and R. Rodriguez. 1996. Interagency conservation biology program for Arizona willow (Salix arizonica Dorn). Pp. 224-230 In: Maschinski, J., H.D. Hammond and L. Holter, techical editors. Southwestern rare and endangered plants: Proceedings of the second conference. General Technical Report RM-GTR-283. USDA-Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Fort Collins, Colorado.

Strohmeyer, S. and J. Maschinski. 1996. Elk and cattle herbivory on Arizona willow (Salix arizonica). Pp. 187-192 In: Maschinski, J., H.D. Hammond, and L. Holter, techical editors. Southwestern rare and endangered plants: Proceedings of the second conference. General Technical Report RM-GTR-283. USDA-Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Fort Collins, Colorado.

Information Compiled By: Jane Mygatt, 1999; last updated 2011

Agency Status:
Taxon USFWS State of NM USFS BLM Navajo Nation Natural Heritage NM Global Rank
Salix arizonicaSoCSoCSen..S1G2G3


Photo credits in header Peniocereus greggii var. greggii © T. Todsen,
Lepidospartum burgessii © M. Howard, Argemone pleiacantha ssp. pinnatisecta © R. Sivinski
©2005 New Mexico Rare Plant Technical Council