Salix nakamurana var. yezoalpina

creeping alpine willow

  • © Richie Steffen/Great Plant Picks

Outstanding Qualities

This alpine willow hails from the mountains of Hokkaido, in Japan, where it clings to the steep, rocky, windswept slopes. In the garden, it continues this habit, spreading low and wide. Its rounded, netted, bright green leaves are heart-shaped at the base and pointed at the tip. Young leaves are covered with silky white hairs, and they turn bright gold in the fall. Most common in the Pacific Northwest is a male clone of this species, it bears upright catkins and is very vigorous. In winter, you'll enjoy the structure of its intertwining, olive-brown branches set with fat, brown buds. Alpine willow is perfect for a rock garden or wherever a ground-hugging shrub is desired. It is sometimes called Salix yezoalpina.

Quick Facts

Plant Type: shrub

Foliage Type: deciduous

Plant Height: 2 ft. 0 in. (0.61 meters)

Plant Width/Spread: 10 ft. 0 in. (3.05 meters)

Plant Height-Mature: 2 ft. 0 in. (0.61 meters)

Plant Width-Mature: 20 ft. 0 in. (6.10 meters)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 4 to 8

Sun/Light Exposure: full sun to light or open shade

Water Requirements: occasional watering

Colors & Combos

Great Color Contrasts: gold, burgundy, variegated

Great Color Partners: silver, dark green, chartreuse

Culture Notes
Alpine willow performs best in full sun to light or open shade. Plant it in a location with moist to well-drained, sandy soil. It will tolerate clay if the drainage is adequate and the soil is not water logged. Once established it only needs occasional watering during dry weather. Little pruning is needed other than removing any dead or broken branches.