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Alpine (Arctic) Willow

Salix arctica

Alpine (Arctic) Willow

APPEARANCE

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”.

RANGE & HABITAT

Alpine willow is most commonly found in northern B.C., the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Alaska. It prefers open, dry areas to root it.

LIFE CYCLE

It has long branches that root where they touch the ground. It also has bright pink flowers in the spring that turn into seeds.

ANIMAL USES

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 FIRST NATIONS USES

Mosses had many uses with First Nations groups. They were used as a dishcloth, a stuffing for mattresses and pillows and to line cradles and bags. Moss was mixed with pitch in canoe construction and with mud to build log cabins.

MODERN USES

The roots were used to weave baskets.

STATUS

COSEWIC: Not at Risk
CDC: Yellow

MORE INFORMATION

www.blueplanetbiomes.org

Photo: Kim Hansen