Characteristics: intermediate between the parents and highly variable. See Notes for more.
Similar species: In addition to the parents of this hybrid, also see these other weeping willow hybrids: S. x pendulina and S. x sepulcralis.
Flowering: April to May
Habitat and ecology: Introduced from Eurasia. In the Chicago Region, Salix x rubens is far more common in the wild than either of its parents (S. alba and S. fragilis). Frequent in low fallow fields, along streams, and in areas of abandoned habitation.
Occurence in the Chicago region: non-native
Notes: The characteristics of this hybrid are highly variable. Generally, it has the coarse teeth of its parent S. fragilis and leafstalks longer than those of its other parent S. alba, but often shorter than S. fragilis, as well as an ambiguous remnant of appressed white hairs too thinly dispersed to represent S. alba and too manifest to represent S. fragilis. Even some of the willows collectively referred to as "weeping willows" appear to be of hybrid origin between S. alba and S. fragilis. The ancestry and taxonomy is complex. For a discussion see Santamour & McArdle (1988): Cultivars of Salix babylonica and other weeping willows. J. Arboriculture 14:180-184.
Etymology: Salix is the Latin word for willow. Rubens means red.