World Plants Logo

search the world

Woody > Salix > Salix matsudana > Salix matsudana

Salix matsudana

Peking or Chinese Willow

Origin:  North-western China, Far Eastern Asia and Korea.
            Mike's Opinion

this is Mike


Named after the Japanese botanist Sadahisa Matsudo, who was the author of one of China’s early taxonomy texts, this eastern variant of the willow forms an interesting globular canopy composed of fine textured branches. The foliage turns a variety of green colors throughout the growing season, starting light green then turning darker green and finally yellow green in the autumn. It is a very popular tree in China, mostly in the form of its cultivar ‘Tortuosa’, a fairly vigorous fast growing tree with twisted branches.

Michael Pascoe, NDP., ODH., CLT., MSc. (Plant Conservation)


Tree (deciduous)
USDA Hardiness Zone
Canadian Hardiness Zone
Temperature (°C)
Temperature (°F)
12-18 m
4-6 m
Description and Growing Information
Flowering Period
General Description
Salix matsudana is a deciduous, fast growing small tree with spring foliage starting out bright green then turning dark green and finally yellowy green in autumn. In the spring it displays clusters of showy male flowers and brownish fruits in the autumn; the amount of fruit it drops can be a litter problem.
The peking willow is a relatively short-lived tree typically used in the landscape as an accent rather than a street tree. The tree suffers from typical willow downfalls such as its relatively weak wood and its pest attraction factor. Not recommended for mass planting on account of its fruit litter and short life span.
Full sun to partial shade, moist soils and fairly dry temperatures. Tolerates a range of pH levels from acidic to mildly alkaline. Salix matsudana is fast growing which indicates that it has weak wood that is prone to storm damage, regular pruning is recommended in order to keep branches from girdling.
The shape of the three is oval and stands upright.
ID Characteristic
Salix matsudana develops as an oval crowned small tree with hanging, finely textured branches, weak wooded, which is a testament to the fast growth of the tree. The tree has an attractive bright green leaf colour with a shiny smooth top and a glabrous bottom with saw-like leaf margins. In full bloom the tree demonstrates rather showy male flowers.
Salix matsudana is troubled by many of the pests common to members of the willow family such as gypsy moth and lace bugs that cause foliage discoloration and defoliation. Diseases that affect it are mainly cosmetic such as powdery mildew and rust but you also have to watch out for various types of fungi that cause black canker and will require pruning.
Native to China along the banks of climax forests, typically a full sun to partial shade secondary tree in the wild.
Bark/Stem Description
The tree has brownish grey, rather plain bark that is brittle and easily damaged; typically the texture of the bark is lightly ridged.
Flower/Leaf Bud Description
A nice yellow colour in its youth, turning yellow-brown to green-brown in full maturity with an average length of 1 cm, bud tips are glabrous.
Leaf Description
Leaves have a glossy bright green colour in the spring with a glabrous underside. Leaf arrangement is alternate, simple narrow and lance-like to 5-10 cm.
Flower Description
Flowers are dioecious so each tree must cross pollinate to be fertilized. Flowers are formed in cup shapes that usually emerge from April to May then turn into large cups of bright green spikes with an average size of 6-8 cm.
Fruit Description
Fruits are loculidical capsules that have a spiky appearance with an average length of 8 cm, and turn a plain brownish green colour in the spring.
Colour Description
Shows rather attractive autumn foliage with its leaves changing from bright green to dark green then finally to yellow green. The flowers form into pale green spikes that catch the eye, fruit turns a brown colour that doesn’t really stand out.
Texture Description
Salix mastudana has a fine texture.
Notable Specimens
Currently a rare specimen in Canada, you can view Salix matsudana as well as a few of its cultivars at the Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America.
Typically propagated from softwood cuttings, they require very little time to root, a no doubt causal effect of the willow family’s high growth hormone content. They will grow fairly quickly in moist soils and dry temperatures. The optimal time to obtain a cutting would be at the peak budding period in the spring. Cut at least a 25 cm section of the stem and bury as much of it as possible as willow trees can root from the entire length of the stem. Seed propagation is not recommended as the seeds are typically short lived.
Dirr, Michael A. "Salix." Manual Of Woody Landscape Plants. Champaign, IL: Stipes Pub., 1977. 1040+. Print. 17th Nov 2012 Surhone, Lambert M., and Mariam T. Tenoe. Salix Matsudana. N.p.: Betascript, 2010. Print. 18th Nov 2012