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Corkscrew Willow Tree | An Ornamental Option for Your Garden or Landscape Design


Corkscrew Willow Tree | An Ornamental Option for Your Garden or Landscape Design


Photo by: Andreas Rockstein,

A true favorite of mine for many years, Corkscrew Willow (Salix matsudana “Tortuosa”) is a true show-stopper that makes a striking focal point in any garden.  As a garden designer, I think it would be perfect if planted near a water feature. It has a unusual form of curly leaves, fuzzy twigs, twisted branches and a knotted trunk that is attention-getting in any season. During the fall, the leaves turn a vibrant yellow and in the winter, the barren,twisted form is impressive when partially covered in snow.


Photo by: Andreas Rockstein,

Corkscrew Willow grows extremely well in any soil (loamy, sandy, clay) as long as it is well draining. Like other willows, the soil should be acidic or have alkaline pH levels. It will need deep and infrequent watering and should be fertilized yearly. It prefers moist soil, but can tolerate a little drought. The tree grows to about 25-35 feet high, spreads 15 – 20 feet and is hardy to Zones 4B to 8.


Corkscrew Willow is not known for showy flowers and the fruit is not a favorite of wildlife. Aggressive pruning is suggested to maintain it’s form but use caution as injuries to the plant can certainly affect this fragile tree. Also because it is in the willow family, it is susceptible to numerous insect problems and has weak wood. The roots are aggressive and have a tendency to fall apart as they get older. For this reason, it should not be added as a permanent fixture in a landscape.

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  1. tonytomeo
    March 3, 2018 at 9:52 pm

    These often get planted by mistake into situations where they do not fit. Bare twigs were popular in floral design from the 1980s until just recently. People sometimes found that twigs had developed roots by the time the rest of the cut flowers got discarded, so would plant the rooted twigs into the garden without much though about what they were. They often grew into nice small trees; but some ended up in situations where they were not appropriate, like planters, or too close to pavement. Unfortunately, even trees in good situations do not last forever. After about ten or fifteen years, they start to die back and fall apart. However, the good news is that if the tree was nice for ten years, it is very easy to grow a replacement by simply sticking a few twigs into the ground over winter before the main trees dies! (I recommend plugging a few twigs because some may not survive. It is better to have a few to choose from than risk getting none before the parent tree dies.) Your last picture is actually the corkscrew hazel, not the corkscrew willow.

    1. The Editors of Garden Variety
      March 3, 2018 at 11:17 pm

      Thanks for the heads up and stopping by 🙂

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