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Native Willows for Habitat and Property Improvement
Native Willows are adaptable to a wide variety of soil and water conditions.  They establish rapidly in areas with seasonal or extended flooding and on well drained sites.  Willows occur in a wiade elevational range, from low elevation to above 9,500 ft.  They are frost tolerant.  Although tender spring growth can be damaged by early-season frost, the plants will recover quickly.  Mature leaves can survive temperatures of -4 F and winter-dormant stems are capable of surviving -94F.
 
There are about 400 species of willows.  With few exceptions, they are deciduous trees or shrubs.  Willows range from large trees to low-growing or creeping shrubs.  Both drought resistant and tolerant of flooding, willows are often found near rivers, lakes, wetlands, parks, forest edges and gardens.  All are useful for soil building and reclamation, for wildlife habitat and erosion control.  Willow roots are wide-spreading and vegetation grows rapidly.
 
Willows have a long history of human use for medicinal properties, for baskets, wicker furniture, fences, and even woven walls for wattle and daub houses.  Rope, toys, tools, boxes, brooms and many other items have been (or still are) made from willows. 
 
Habitat
Willows offer shelter, nesting sites and food for a wide variety of animals, birds and insects.

Coyote or Sandbar Willow (Salix exigua)

Grows on moist or wet sites from the plains, desert shrub, and sagebrush zones to lower montane habitats in the American west.  It is the only willow to grow in the lowest and hottest portions of the North American Deserts, provided the roots are in moist soil.
 
Coyote Willow is generally found in open to densely vegetated riparian communities along streams, gravel bars, lakeshores and ditches.  At high elevations, it exists in streamside communities and, at mid- to low-elevations, it can be found on moist, well-drained benches, floodplains and bottomlands.  It easily tolerates frequent flooding but there are many instances where it actually increases with distance from a waterway.  It tolerates a huge range of soil types, pH, nutrient availability and even low nitrogen levels. 
 
Coyote Willow can reach 10 to 16 ft. in height with 95% coverage.  It promotes bank building and soil development. This creates hospitable sites for other species.  THIS IS A HARDY AND ADAPTABLE NATIVE PLANT!  If it liked shade, it would be the perfect restoration plant!
 
Livestock Feed:  Coyote Willow offers 27% to 48% utilization for livestock, but it's not necessarily preferred by cattle.  Studies have shown that it comprises 1% to 4% of steer diet, even when it represents 7% to 45% of available feed.  Trampling will reduce development and increase mortality of young plants in riparian areas but once established, density can be improved with spring grazing.
 
Browse:  Elk and mule deer browse Coyote Willow.  In fact, itt can be very important late summer and winter browse for elk.  It's heavily used by beaver.  It's a food source for small mammals, waterfowl and small nongame birds.
 
Cover:  Willow communities are used by migratory waterfowl during winter months, and provide nesting and cover sites for nongame birds.  Elk, antelope, mule deer, small mammals, waterfowl and upland game birds all use willow communities and thickets for cover.
Coyote Willow
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Geyer Willow (Salix geyeriana)

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