'Golden Curls' Curly Willow;
aka, Golden Corkscrew Willow;
aka, Contorted Hankow Willow;
aka, Twisted-Twig Willow
The natural species form of Salix matsudana, native to Northeast Asia, is sometimes called Globe Willow because of its upright evenly rounded form, but a sport called 'Tortuosa' was a naturally contorted variant from which many cultivars have been developed, including our 'Golden Curls' with a smaller shrubbier habit, exaggeratedly twisted twigs & branches, & wavy leaves, & semi-pendulous.
The original S. matsudana 'Tortuosa' is also known as Contorted Peking Willow or Dragon's Claw Willow. To achieve the shrubbier, curlier 'Golden Curls,' 'Tortuosa' was pollinated by S. alba 'Tristis.' The cross increased its hardiness, the original 'Tortuosa' having been sometimes delicate.
The species easily grows thirty to fifty feet, though often trained through pruning to remain fairly small. 'Golden Curls' can also grow quite large through generally speaking twenty to thirty feet would be a very big one, & it has a tendency to remain only a large shrub or small tree, certainly smaller than the species. It grows with considerable speed, narrow & upright, becoming wider & egg-shaped in its maturity. It is relatively shortlived for a tree, & like all extremely rapid-growing trees, is prone to breakage in high winds or if children climb into it.
It is "golden" because the curly green leaf blades turn such a splendid shade of yellow in autumn (see the Curly Willow Page of the Autumn Trees Garden Walk Gallery). Furthermore, the bark is -orange-yellow while the tree is young, & new limbs throughout its life will be orange-yellow, with increased yellowness in winter.
It has a striking appearance all year round, curly green leaves of spring & summer, golden leaves of autumn, & always those curly branches which in winter are especially dramatic coiling against the sky.
Like nearly all willows, these trees grow vigorously in temperate climates with cool soil. It's very cold hardy, suitable for zones 4 through 8. It has showy male flowers in spring. It is easily propogated from cuttings.
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