by Stephen Mifsud
   15 Jul 2024      ()
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Salix alba   (White Willow)

Salix alba  (SALICACEAE.) 
Images for this profile are taken from the Maltese Islands after year 2000.

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Profile Date Nov-2007 (taxon update: none)
Citation for this page Mifsud, S. (2022). Salix alba - datasheet created on Nov-2007. Retrieved from on 15-Jul-2024

Nomenclature and Basic Information

Species name :

Salix albaL.
Published in Sp. Pl. 1021 (1753)

Synonyms :
(basionym or principal syn.)

Argorips alba (L.) Raf.
Full list of synonyms : [Euro+Med] [PlantList] [IPNI] [POWO] [Catalogue of Life] []

Plant Family :

Salicaceae Mirbel (The Willow Family)
4 species from the Salicaceae family are recorded from the Maltese Islands.

English name(s) :

White Willow

Maltese name(s) :

Żafżafa kbira, Safsafa kbira

Status for Malta :

Indigenous. Present on the Maltese islands before man

Frequency :

Very Common     Common    Frequent     Scarce     Rare    Very rare     Extinct

Growth form :

Raunkiaer lifeform [info]: Macro-Phanerophyte ( high trees usually over 10 m high )
Germination [info]: Dicotyledon

Legal Protection :

Protected by law: Schedule I of [S.L. 549.123] AND schedule III of [S.L. 549.44] (Strictly protected tree species)

Red List (1989) :

Threatened status for the Maltese Islands and has been listed in the Red Data Book (1st ed.)

Flowering Time :

March – April

Colour of Flowers:

Green or Inconspicuous


Not particularly toxic

Name Derivation :

alba: Having a white colour. (Latin origin )

Planting in rural areas :

Encouraged to be planted in the wild that is in rural areas including ODZ.

Description, Habitat and Distribution
Habitat in Europe: Data will be available in the next update of this website.
Preferred habitat in Malta: Data will be available in the next update of this website.
Botanical Description: Tree up to 25 m, often pollarded. Branches ascending, appearing silvery-grey in life. Bark greyish, not flaking. Twigs sericeous when young, later glabrous and brown or olive, not easily breaking off. Leaves 5-10(-12) cm, usually 5½-7½ times as long as wide, acuminate, not or slightly asymmetrical at apex, cuneate at base, finely serrate, covered with white, silky, appressed hairs on both surfaces; petiole usually with a few glands. Stipules caducous. Catkins 3-5 cm, appearing with the leaves, dense, cylindrical. Bracts uniformly yellowish. Stamens 2, free; anthers yellow. Female flowers usually with 1 nectary.
Distributional range: Most of Europe but mainly as an introduction in the north often planted.

Distributional map in Europe
and the Mediterranean region (2018):
Occurrences in Europe.
(from Flora Europaea pre year 1993):
Albania, Austria and Liechtenstein, Belgium, Britain (excl. Northern Ireland and Channel islands), Bulgaria, Corse, Crete, Czeck Republic and Slovakia, France (incl. Monaco and Channel Islands but excluding Corse), Germany, Greece, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Spain (incl. Andorra but excl. the Balaerics), Hungary, Italy (excl. Sicily and Sardignia), ex-Jugoslavia, Portugal, Poland, Romania, Russia and former USSR,N B C W K E Sardinia, Sicily and/or Malta, Turkey (European part), Introduced in  Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden
Occurrences in Europe and the Mediterranean region.
(from Euro+Med Checklist, 2019)
  Country codes  
Ab(A) AE(G) Ag Al Ar Au(A L) Be(B L) BH Br Bu By Cg Co Cr Cs Ct Cy Ga(C F) Ge Gg(A) Gr Hb(E N) He Ho Hs(S) Hu Ir It Le Li Lt Lu Ma Mk Mo Po Rf(C CS E K S) Rm Sa Si(M S) Sk Sl Sr Tn Tu(A E) Uk(K U) [cBl(I M) Bl(N) aBr cCo cCt nDa nEs nFe nHb cHs(S) nLa Lt nNo Rf(N NW) nSu]

Links & Further literature (0 papers)

Google Web

Google Images

Google Scholar

Research Gate




Med Checklist

Cat. of Life



World Flora Online

Plants of the World Online

Vienna Virt. Herb.

RBGE Herbarium

KEW Herbarium




Kindly Email if there are papers and publications about local studies or information about this species to be included in the list above.

Species Images (11 images)
   Salix alba   -   Image Code: SLXAL-0.
   Salix alba   -   Image Code: SLXAL-1.
   Salix alba   -   Image Code: SLXAL-2.
   Salix alba   -   Image Code: SLXAL-3.
   Salix alba   -   Image Code: SLXAL-4.
   Salix alba   -   Image Code: SLXAL-5.
   Salix alba   -   Image Code: SLXAL-6.
   Salix alba   -   Image Code: SLXAL-7.
   Salix alba   -   Image Code: SLXAL-8.
   Salix alba   -   Image Code: SLXAL-9.
   Salix alba   -   Image Code: SLXAL-10.

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Section B:   Where have you seen this plant on the Maltese Islands?
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Try to be as concise as possible. Examples: Dingli Cliffs (near chapel), Wied Incita (Zebbug side), Triq il-Kbira (Qormi), Barriera ta' Ghajn Abdul (Xlendi), Fields East of Salib tal-gholja (Siggiewi). GPS co-ordinates are also welcomed!
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