Identification: Mystery tree/shrub

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by benzmum, May 13, 2020.

  1. benzmum

    benzmum Active Member 10 Years

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    My friend Sofia was given an outdoor tree that is growing in a pot, and she'd like to identify it. I've attached a picture of its form (with no leaves), and also in leaf in 2018. This year no leaves have come out, though the wood feels solid, and I don't see any sign of disease. Is it possible this is one of those plants that occasionally go dormant for a year? The person who gave Sofia the tree died a couple of years ago, and she desperately wants to keep the tree if it's possible to save it.
     

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  2. togata57

    togata57 Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    Welcome to the Forum!

    Weeping pussy willow, maybe?
     
  3. benzmum

    benzmum Active Member 10 Years

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    You may be right, togata57, from what I see online.

    Why is it leafless, though, in May in Vancouver? Does anyone know if this means it's dying, or how to check to see if it's still alive?
     
  4. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Please do a thumbnail check to see if there is any green tissue under the bark -- report back!
     
  5. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    If it was purchased from a commercial source in later years it is very likely to be Salix caprea 'Kilmarnock'.
     
  6. benzmum

    benzmum Active Member 10 Years

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    Oh, right, I should have thought of that! Thank you, Daniel. I should have mentioned that it's on a north-facing balcony that gets no sun. When I zoom into the pictures I took two years ago I can see the catkins, so it must be a pussy willow relative, huh. Now to go see if it has any life under the bark....
     
  7. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    It's more than just a relative.
     
  8. benzmum

    benzmum Active Member 10 Years

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    Did the thumbnail check, and used a small knife, but there's no green tissue. I even tried bending some little offshoots and they snapped right off - quite dead. I scraped a couple of other tiny branches and they're white underneath. My friend wasn't available but it looks like someone pruned the tree. I assume this tree should be pruned in the fall, am I right?
    Uummm, Ron, would it be appropriate to refer to it as a variety of pussy willow?
    I’m including a couple of shots of my scrapings.
     

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  9. benzmum

    benzmum Active Member 10 Years

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    There’s a shoot coming up in the pot. Is it possible it’s an offspring of the same plant? See below.
     

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  10. vitog

    vitog Contributor 10 Years

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    It's no offspring. That shoot has a seed leaf; so, it came up from a seed in the pot, and the leaves don't look like willow leaves.
     
  11. benzmum

    benzmum Active Member 10 Years

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    Thanks, vitog , I finally realized the leaves were the wrong shape.
     
  12. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Seedling is an oak, otherwise maybe a chestnut.
     
  13. benzmum

    benzmum Active Member 10 Years

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    Thanks, Ron. We get “volunteer” trees in our containers frequently. I used to get birches until the one across the street got a disease and was taken down.

    So is the Salix caprea dead, do you think?
     
  14. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Yes, sounds like it is dead.
     
  15. benzmum

    benzmum Active Member 10 Years

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    Bad news, but you’ve all helped immensely - thank you!

    Now to see if there’s another one to be had in a local garden centre.... Oh, I guess I’m not done yet: if she gets no sun, will the new plant survive?
     
  16. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Willows (in general) are not shade plants -- at a minimum, this one would need partial sun.
     
  17. benzmum

    benzmum Active Member 10 Years

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    Thanks, Daniel, I’ll tell her. Maybe we can find something else to honour her friend who’s gone.
     
  18. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    Interesting as always here

    May I ask - original poster - what in particular was special for you / your friend regarding this seemingly deceased plant?

    Did it belong to them?

    Or Willow was special generally speaking as species

    Or thé pussy Willow blooms (what is technical name for the fuzzy springtime pollen producers?)

    As a sentimental collector person - incl plants others installed in my gardens ...

    I have some ideas that have helped me —

    If it is this plant in particular - specifically - then save the branches and decorate another container with them (it would be something else if they rooted - one never knows)

    If it’s the willow name that is special - I always have a few curly willow branches growing in a decorative outdoor container of water — no soil. (I cannot grow this plant on my lot due to septic and neighbor waterline considerations which are both $$$$$.)

    I have an older friend from England and they speak of spring and pussy willows. They certainly are a tradition in all those well known English books. (Tho Squirrel Nutkin groomed her fluffy red tail with a teasel I think ... one had to grow up with certain P Rabbit books !)
     
  19. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    The birch probably got hit by bronze birch borer.
     
  20. benzmum

    benzmum Active Member 10 Years

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    Georgia Strait, the woman who gave Sofia the tree was very special to her, and she sees the tree as a memorial. Your idea of saving the branches might interest her.

    Ron, that sounds like the disease I heard that the birch had.
     

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