tree Crack Willow (Salix fragilis). Crack Willow is a deciduous tree up to 20m high, with a short, thick trunk, a deeply ridged bark and a rounded crown. It has wide-spreading branches and brittle, fragile twigs which break (crack) cleanly at the base when bent down.

leafThe leaves are narrow, alternate, 9-15cm long and up to 3cm wide. They end in a point, often turned in one direction and have coarse, single-toothed margins. They are dark, shiny-green and hairless above, bluish-green and hairy only when young below.

catkinsMale and female flowers are in 4-6cm catkins, which appear with leaves on separate trees in April and May. The male catkins have pale yellow scales and golden-yellow anthers. The female catkins are also yellow. The flowers have short stigmas and mature into white woolly seeds in summer.seeds

The tree is often planted next to rivers as the roots help stabilise the banks. It also attracts insects in the spring and was favoured by beekeepers.