WEEPING WILLOW (Salix babylonica)

Distinguishing characters: All the willows have a single cap-like scale to the bud, and this species has an unusually drooping mass of slender branchlets which characterizes the tree from all others.
The Leaves and Catkins of the Weeping Willow
Form and size: It grows to large size.
Weeping Willow in the Winter
Range: Asia and Europe and naturalized in eastern United States.

Soil and location: Prefers moist places near streams and ponds.
Weeping Willow Growing Near a Pond
Enemies: None of importance.

Value for planting: The weeping willow has a special ornamental effect in cemeteries and along lakes and river banks in parks.
Painting by Claude Monet
Commercial value: It is (historically) used in the United States for charcoal and for fuel.

Comparisons: The pussy willow (Salix discolor) may easily be told from the other willows by its small size; it is often no higher than a tall shrub. Its branches are reddish green and the buds are dark red, smooth and glossy. The predominating color of the twigs and buds in the pussy willow is therefore a shade of red, while in the weeping willow it is yellowish green.
The Catkins of the Pussy Willow


Study the lesson for one week.

Over the week:

  • Read the lesson.
  • Review the synopsis.
  • Recite aloud the vocabulary words and their definitions.
  • Learn the concepts.
  • Complete the enrichment activities.
  • Study the review questions.


This lesson covers the weeping willow, which is readily identified by its drooping mass of slender branchlets. The scientific (Latinized) name of the weeping willow is Salix babylonica.


Weep: To cry or shed tears.
Catkin: A type of flower cluster (a spike), as in the birch, willow, and poplar.
Naturalized: To introduce an animal or plant to a new area with an unfamiliar climate.
Climate: The long-term manifestations of weather and other atmospheric conditions in a given area or country.
Moist: Slightly wet.
Ornamental: Having no purpose other than to make something more beautiful.


The weeping willow grows catkins for reproduction.

  1. Catkins are a type of flower cluster characteristic of some willows, poplars, birch, hickory, and other trees.

Catkins may be either male or female.

  1. Female willow catkin:
  2. Male willow catkin:

Wind pollinates a majority of catkins, but insects pollinate a small group of others.


Activity 1: Narrate the Lesson

  • After reading or listening to the lesson, narrate the lesson aloud using your own words.

Activity 2: Study the Lesson Pictures

  • Study the lesson pictures and describe how they relate to the lesson.

Activity 3: Take a Nature Walk

  • Bring a small sketchbook and a specimen collection bag and embark on a nature walk.
  • If they grow in your area, find a weeping willow tree. Otherwise, seek out another unstudied tree.
  • Study and sketch the appearance and habitat of the tree, especially its weeping branches.
  • Collect a branch and leaf specimen from the tree.
  • Use the sketch and leaf specimen to create the field book entry.

Activity 4: Complete a Field Book Entry   

After your nature walk, complete page 51 in 'Science Field Book for Fourth Grade.'


Question 1

What is the meaning of 'weep?'
1 / 4

Answer 1

Weep means to cry or shed tears.
1 / 4

Question 2

How did the weeping willow get its name?
2 / 4

Answer 2

The cascade of branches and leaves look like falling tears.
2 / 4

Question 3

What are catkins?
3 / 4

Answer 3

Catkins are clusters of flowers.
3 / 4

Question 4

How are catkin flowers pollinated?
4 / 4

Answer 4

Catkin flowers are pollinated by the wind and insects.
4 / 4

  1. What is the meaning of 'weep?' Weep means to cry or shed tears.
  2. How did the weeping willow get its name? The cascade of branches and leaves look like falling tears.
  3. What are catkins? Catkins are clusters of flowers.
  4. How are catkin flowers pollinated? Catkin flowers are pollinated by the wind and insects.


  1. 'Studies of Trees' by Jacob Joshua Levison. gutenberg.org/ebooks/16116. n.p.
  2. 'Female Willow Catkin by Nadiatalent (CC BY-SA 3.0).' Wikipedia. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Willow_catkin_2_aka.jpg. n.p.
  3. 'Male Willow Catkin by André Karwath (CC BY-SA 2.5).' Wikipedia. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Salix_female_catkin.jpg. n.p.