Salix nakamurana var. yezoalpina

Common Name: willow 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Salicaceae
Native Range: Japan
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: Yellow catkins
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Good Fall
Tolerate: Deer, Erosion, Black Walnut


Grow in average, evenly moist, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best catkin quality in full sun. Generally prefers full sun in cool summer climates, but appreciates some part afternoon shade in hot and humid summer conditions. Intolerant of dry soils. Prune back radiating branches as needed.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Salix nakamurana var. yezoalpina is a prostrate, creeping willow (sometimes commonly called yezo dwarf willow or creeping alpine willow) that is native to mountain slopes in Hokkaido, Japan. It is basically a shrubby, low-growing, alpine ground cover that prospers in harsh mountain terrain. Branches will crawl through crevices and over large rocks. This willow develops a very short trunk which does not rise upwards by more than one foot, but from which stiff woody reddish brown branches radiate outward along the ground in all directions to 6' wide or more. Branches root where they touch the ground. Silky, fuzzy, yellowish catkins (each to 2" long) commonly called pussy willows appear upright along the branches in early spring (late March-early April) prior to the emergence of the leaves. Catkins purportedly resemble the pads on a cat’s paw, hence the common name. Ovate leaves (to 1-2" long) covered with silky white hairs emerge shortly thereafter. Leaves turn deep green by summer. Fall color is variable shades of yellow sometimes tinted with red.

This shrub is synonymous with and formerly known as Salix yezoalpina.

Genus name is the Latin name for this plant.


Willows are susceptible to numerous disease problems including blights, powdery mildew, leaf spots, gray scab and cankers. Potential insect pests include aphids, scale, borers, lacebugs and caterpillars. This plant is native to alpine areas and may struggle in the heat and humidity of a typical St. Louis summer.


Interesting ground cover for difficult places. Excellent on slopes. Rock gardens. Large containers where branching can cascade downward.