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A tree 29 to 60 ft high in gardens, often a shrub in the wild; twigs shining, brownish green, glabrous; buds yellow. Leaves aromatic, ovate to oval, rounded or slightly heart-shaped at the base, rather abruptly narrowed at the apex to a slender point, finely glandular toothed, 11⁄2 to 41⁄2 in. long, 3⁄4 to 2 in. wide, glabrous, dark polished green above, dull and paler beneath; midrib yellow; stalk 1⁄4 to 3⁄8 in. long, glandular near the blade. Male catkins cylindrical, about 11⁄2 in. long; female catkins rather longer, both produced on leafy shoots in late May. Stamens five or more; seed-vessels glabrous, slightly stalked.
Native of much of Europe, except in the far north and the Mediterranean region, but in the British Isles not found wild south of Derbyshire, Yorkshire, N. Wales and N. Ireland; also widely distributed in temperate Asia. One of the handsomest of all willows in the brilliant green of its large, broad leaves, resembling those of a bay laurel. In high latitudes it is a shrub, but in moist good soil it becomes a good-sized tree. There was one at Kew 50 ft high and 7 ft 8 in. in girth but it was destroyed by the great gale of 28 March 1916. There is a tree of about the same height at Wakehurst Place, Sussex (1978), and another, measuring 52 × 51⁄2 ft (1975) in the University Parks, Oxford.