Salix aegyptiaca (Musk willow)
Subgenus: S. subg. Caprisalix
Section: S. sect. Vetrix
Species: S. aegyptiaca
Scientific name: Salix aegyptiaca
Synonyms: Salix phlomoides, Salix medemii
Common name: Musk willow, Persian willow, Egyptian willow
Salix aegyptiaca is a deciduous 2.5 to 10 meters high shrub or tree with a rounded spreading canopy in the willow family Salicaceae. The genus name Salix comes from Latin for willow and the specific epithet aegyptiaca refers to the land of Egypt, even though the willow is not native there. The natural range is the temperate regions in the north of Iran and Iraq, in the southeast of Turkey and Azerbaijan. Some sources also list Greece and Israel as a distribution area. It is cultivated in many other countries.
The leaves are simple, green, shiny, alternate, obovate and are 5 to 15 cm long and 3 to 6 cm wide. They can be wavy and have an irregular serrated margin. The underside of the leaf is a light gray-green colour and has small hairs. The young branches of Salix aegyptiaca are red in colour and are felted grey up to the second year and then they become is smooth.
In New Zealand Salix aegyptiaca produces spikes of white cup-shaped flowers from August to to October. The flower buds are ovoid, 6 to 9 mm in length, 4 to 6 mm in diameter, blunt or slightly pointed.
The numerous kittens which appear before the leaves emerge are up to 8 cm long and are hairy cylindrical to ovate. The bracts are silky hairy, 2 to 3.5 mm long and from 1.5 to 3 mm wide. Male flowers have two stamens with 7 to 10 mm long, overgrown about halfway and hairy at the base of stamens. The ovary of female flowers is stalked and slightly hairy. Salix aegyptiaca produce loculicidal capsules containing seeds.
Photographed at Christchurch Botanical Garden.
NB red young stems.
NB Slightly wavy serrated margins of a leaf.
The underside of a leaf.