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A hybrid between S. purpurea and S. viminalis, forming a shrub or small tree; young twigs slightly downy at first. Leaves linear-lanceolate, with long, tapered points, the base more abruptly tapered, distantly toothed except towards the base, 2 to 51⁄2 in. long, 1⁄4 to 2⁄3 in. wide, green and glabrous on both sides when mature, but grey and slightly downy beneath when young; stalk 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long. Catkins produced on the naked shoots in April, 1 to 11⁄2 in. long. Stamens two, but with stalks united towards the base, or sometimes nearly to the anthers.
Native of Britain and Europe, and highly valued by basket-makers. The osiers known in the trade as ‘Mawdesley’s Long Skein’ and ‘Tulip Willow’ belong to it.
S. ‘Eugenei’. – Of fastigiate habit, the branches and twigs all ascending at a steep angle; young bark pale green or greenish yellow. Leaves on strong shoots 2 to 4 in. long, linear-oblanceolate, tapered into the petiole, acute or short-acuminate at the apex, finely serrated in the upper half, sea-green above, the underside glaucous with a yellowish midrib, soon glabrous, lateral veins in about forty pairs on the longer leaves. A male clone, with slender, pinkish catkins 3⁄4 to 1 in. long; anthers pale red (S. purpurea × S. viminalis, var. eugenei J. Fraser; S. purpurea Eugenei and S. pyramidalis Josephinae Hort. ex J. Fraser; S. pyramidalis Eugenie Hort. ex Dipp.; ? S. pyramidalis Josephinae Hort. ex K. Koch; ? S. pyramidalis Josephine Hort. ex Dipp.).
A vigorous but elegant willow, which James Fraser likened to a fine-leaved bamboo; it is also very pretty in spring, with its small but abundant catkins. It has been cultivated in Germany since the 1860s and has usually been placed under S. purpurea or S. helix (a name of uncertain application which has been used for forms of both S. purpurea and S. × rubra), but the Swedish authority Floderus saw a specimen from Messrs Hillier in the 1920s and identified it as S. purpurea × S. viminalis. Although the rendering ‘Eugenei’ is established, the correct name should probably be ‘Eugénie’ or ‘Eugeniae’, for the Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoleon III. ‘Josephine’ may have been a different clone of similar habit.
S. ‘Forbyana’. – Near to S. × rubra, but now thought by some authorities to be a triple hybrid, the third parent being S. cinerea var. oleifolia. Twigs yellowish. Leaves broader than in S. × rubra, dark green and lustrous above. A female clone with catkins as in S. purpurea; occasionally male flowers are produced in the lower scales and these show the influence of S. purpurea in having the filaments connate. ‘Forbyana’ was described by Sir James Smith in 1804 from a plant in the Crowe collection at Lakenham, received from a Mr Forby. According to Smith it was known as the ‘fine basket osier’, but introduced later to the Thames osier-beds it was found to be too coarse for fine basket-work.