This willow grows up to 20 centimetres tall, with oval-shaped pointed leaves covered in long hairs that keep the leaves warm. It has very shallow roots because it often lives where the ground is permanently frozen, called “permafrost”. In the spring, it has bright pink flowers.
RANGE & HABITAT
Alpine willow is most commonly found in northern B.C., the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Alaska. It has adapted to the tundra and prefers open, dry areas to root.
It has long branches that root where they touch the ground. It also has bright pink flowers in the spring that turn into seeds. It is a slow-growing plant that can survive for long periods of time.
Alpine willow provides important nesting and protection habitat for sparrows and other small birds. Alpine willow is a good source of protein for birds.
TRADITIONAL USES BY INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
This plant has many medicinal uses such as relieving toothache, helping to stop bleeding, and curing diarrhea and indigestion. Parts of the plant are eaten, as it is high in vitamin C and has a sweet taste.
The roots are used to weave baskets.
COSEWIC: Not at Risk
Photo: Kim Hansen