Salix reticulata

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaSalicaceaeSalixSalix reticulata


A creeping dwarf shrub which grows on base-rich montane rock ledges of limestone or calcareous schist. From 650 m (Creag Mhor, Mid Perth) to 1125 m (Ben Lawers, Mid Perth), but rarely found at the lower end of this range.



World Distribution

Circumpolar Arctic-montane element.

© Pete Stroh

Broad Habitats

Light (Ellenberg): 7

Moisture (Ellenberg): 6

Reaction (Ellenberg): 8

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 3

Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): -0.1

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 11.3

Annual Precipitation (mm): 2081

Height (cm): 15

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary




Clonality - primary

Rhizome shortly creeping

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 25

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 0

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 0

Atlas Change Index: -0.17

JNCC Designations


Scarce Atlas Account

Scarce Atlas Account: 

Salix reticulata L.

Net-leaved willow

Status: scarce


S. reticulata is a plant of montane rock-ledges. It has stringent soil requirements, growing with few exceptions on limestone or calcareous schist. On large outcrops it is better able to survive rock-falls, droughts and grazing, as vegetative spread from surrounding plants can re-populate a denuded area. Small outcrops rarely harbour the plant. Associates include Dryas octopetala, Galium boreale, Persicaria vivipara, Polystichum lonchitis, Saxifrage nivalis and Silene acaulis. Only found in the higher hills of Scotland, its altitude range is 680 metres in Glen Doll to 1125 metres on Ben Lawers; it is rarely found at the lower end of its altitudinal range. 

S. reticulata is a creeping perennial dwarf shrub spreading by means of rhizomes and rooting stems. It usually flowers well but on Creag an Lochain Meikle (1977) found that nearly all the plants were male. Nevertheless regeneration appeared active. Regeneration is usually obvious elsewhere.

It is not clear whether this species is currently spreading or is in decline. Donald Patton studied Beinn Laoigh in 1920-1923 (Patton 1924), and was unable to find S. reticulata, even though Peter Ewing had found it years before. Since about 1960 it has become quite easy to find there (Roger 1975) suggesting that the plant may be subject to periods of advance and withdrawal (or that more people have been searching!).

The distribution of S. reticulata is typically arctic-alpine, being almost circumpolar but absent from Iceland and Greenland. Its European distribution is mapped by Jalas & Suominen (1976).


A. Slack

Atlas text references

Atlas (192a)
Hultén E, Fries M
1986.  Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
Jalas & Suominen (1976)
Mardon DK
1990.  Conservation of montane willow scrub in Scotland. Transactions of the Botanical Society of Edinburgh. 45:427-436.
Meikle RD
1984.  Willows and poplars of Great Britain and Ireland. Botanical Society of the British Isles Handbook no. 4.
Meusel H, Jäger E, Weinert E
1965.  Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 1. 2 vols.
Stead J
1980.  Plant portraits, 1. Salix reticulata, the net-veined willow. Quarterly Bulletin of the Alpine Garden Society. 48:59-60.
Stewart A, Pearman DA, Preston CD
1994.  Scarce plants in Britain.