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”. 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.

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. It is a slow-growing plant that can survive for long periods of time.

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 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.

OTHER USES

The roots are used to weave baskets.

STATUS

COSEWIC: Not at Risk
CDC: Yellow

MORE INFORMATION

www.blueplanetbiomes.org

Photo: Kim Hansen