Willows can be small bushes to large trees up to 70 feet tall. Leaves are bright green above and pale-green beneath, alternate, simple, lance-shaped (2 to 6 inches long and 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide), finely toothed and attached to the stem by a short petiole. Flowers are small, borne in a catkin spike and develop in early spring as leaves develop. Willows can spread aggressively around ponds and should be kept off the dams or levees. All trees should be kept off dams because their roots can penetrate the core and make them leak and they have high evaporation rates.
Submerged portions of all aquatic plants provide habitats for many micro and macro invertebrates. These invertebrates in turn are used as food by fish and other wildlife species (e.g. amphibians, reptiles, ducks, etc.). After aquatic plants die, their decomposition by bacteria and fungi provides food (called “detritus”) for many aquatic invertebrates. Willows are used as nesting sites for many species of birds. Leaves and buds of willows are consumed by some birds and mammals.