Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Salix gooddingii, Goodding's Willow

Goodding's Willow is a major riparian tree species in the southwest United States. Flowers are catkins which emerge from March to April. Salix gooddingiiGoodding's Willow has attractive large green leaves with serrated margins. The leaves are deciduous and emerge in early spring just after the catkins open. Salix gooddingiiGoodding's Willow is an important tree in the southwestern U.S. where it provides important shade in dry desert and upland regions. Salix gooddingiiGoodding's Willow flowers are located on soft often fuzzy catkins. Trees have male and female flowers on separate trees. The flowers in the photo are male. Salix gooddingiiGoodding's Willow is fast growing tree or shrub that grows upward of 60 feet with a trunk diameter up to 30 inches or so. Bark is brown, rough, thick and deeply furrowed. Salix gooddingii

Scientific Name: Salix gooddingii
Common Name: Goodding's Willow

Also Called: Dudley Willow, Goodding Willow, Goodding's Black Willow, Gooding Black Willow, Valley Willow, Western Black Willow, (Spanish: Sauce, Sauz)

Family: Salicaceae or Willow Family

Synonyms: (Salix gooddingii var. vallicola, Salix gooddingii var. variabilis, Salix nigra var. vallicola, Salix vallicola)

Status: Native

Duration: Perennial

Size: Up to 60 feet or more (90'), usually much less.

Growth Form: Tree, shrub; fast growing, trunk diameter 30 inches, mature bark brown, thick, rough and with deep furrows (see photo); twigs yellowish, fine hairs become glabrous.

Leaves: Green, light green; deciduous, leaves large, 2 to 4 inches or so; narrowly lanceolate, narrowly elliptic or narrowly ovate, petioles have glands at base; margins serrate.

Flower Color: Green or brawny and inconspicuous; flowers are on catkins; male and female flowers on separate trees (dioecious); inflorescence catkins emerges with leaves; dioecious; fruits capsular

Flowering Season: March to April.

Elevation: Up to 7,000 feet; lower elevations in California, often below 1,500 feet.

Habitat Preferences: Riparian areas; rivers, streams, marshes, washes, creeks, stock tanks and seeps or moist areas; often dominate species or co-dominate with Fremont Cottonwood.

Recorded Range: Goodding's Willow is found in the southwest United States in AZ, CA, NM, NV, TX, UT. It is also found in Baja California and northern Mexico. In Arizona is occurs throughout the state.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Salix gooddingii.

U.S. Weed Information: No information available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.

Wetland Indicator: No information available. In North America Salix gooddingii has the following wetland designations: Arid West, FACW; Great Plains, FACW; Western Mountains, Valleys, and Coast, FACW.
FACW = Facultative Wetland, usually occur in wetlands, but may occur in non-wetlands

Threatened/Endangered Information: No information available.

Genus Information: In North America there are 171 species and 200 accepted taxa overall for Salix. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 552 accepted species names with 963 infraspecific rank for the genus.

In the Southwestern United States, Arizona has 19 species of Salix, California has 30 species, Nevada has 23 species, New Mexico has 24 species, Texas has 8 species and Utah has 27 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.

Comments: Salix gooddingii, or Goodding's Willow is found in a variety of habitats including desert shrub, chaparral and pinyon juniper. This species as with other dominant riparian species, provides important shade in dry desert and upland areas. Goodding's Willow also provides browse, cover and food for insects and wildlife especially beavers.

Goodding's Willow is common in southwestern United States deserts where it is found along streams commonly with Arizona Walnut (Juglans major), Fremont Cottonwood (Populus fremontii) and Arizona Sycamore (Platanus wrightii).

In Southwest Desert Flora also see Narrowleaf Willow, Salix exigua and Peachleaf Willow, Salix amygdaloides.

Importance to Wildlife and Livestock
Goodding's Willow and other willows are known to provide excellent browse, cover and habitat for many species of wildlife. Additionally they are excellent food for the North American Beavers and regularly provide stems and branches used as building material for their dens.
In general, willows of the genus Salix provide excellent browse for livestock and provide important shade in many geographic locations where bright sun and high temperatures cause problems.

For a comprehensive and thoroughly documented review of Goodding's Willow, Salix gooddingii see the USDA USFS Fire Effects Information System, or FEIS.

The genus Salix is directly from the Latin word "Salix" which means willow. The genus Salix was published by Carl Linnaeus in 1753. The species epithet "gooddingii" is in honor of Leslie Newton Goodding (1880-1967) a botanist specializing in the flora of the western United States. Many plant species were named in honor of Mr. Goodding.

Salix gooddingii, Goodding's Willow has been used for beverage and for a variety of other purposes by South American indigenous peoples.
  • Cahuilla Fiber, Furniture, Wood used to make cradle boards.
  • Mohave Food, Beverage, Young shoots used to make tea.
  • Pima Drug, Febrifuge, Decoction of leaves and bark taken as a febrifuge.
  • Pima Fiber, Basketry, Used as foundations for outdoor storage baskets.
  • Pima Fiber, Mats, Rugs & Bedding, Bark used as padding in baby cradles.
  • Pima Fiber, Sewing Material, Small, green branches split in two, peeled, twisted, dried and used for sewing coiled baskets.
  • Pima Food, Unspecified, Catkins eaten raw.
  • Pima Other, Hunting & Fishing Item, Used to make bows.
  • Yuma Food, Beverage, Leaves and twig bark steeped to make tea.
  • Yuma Food, Unspecified, Bark eaten raw or cooked in hot ashes.

  • See all ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.

    Date Profile Completed: 07/29/2016, updated 06/06/2017, updated 09/11/2019
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 07/28/2016)
    Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California.
    Reed, William R. 1993. Salix gooddingii In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer).
    Available: [2016, July 29].
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 07/28/2016).
    Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet [accessed: 07/28/2016]. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
    1993, The Jepson Manual, Citation: (accessed 07/29/2016),7045,7058
    Michael Charters, California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations - A Dictionary of Botanical and Biographical Etymology Compiled by Michael L. Charters - (accessed 09/09/2019) - Excellent site.
    SEINet for synonyms, scientific names, recorded geographic locations and general information 07/29/2016).