Black willow (Salix nigra) is native to the entire eastern half of North America, and encompasses all of Ohio in its distribution. It is the most common willow in Ohio, abundantly found in wetlands and alongside streams, ponds, and rivers, as well as swampy or marshy areas. It is one of the few willows with stipules that encircle the stems, and it is named for the black bark that is found on mature trunks. As an ornamental, it can be planted as a fine-textured shade tree, as it tolerates dry soils with reduced vigor. The lightweight wood from this tree was once used in the production of artificial limbs. Black willow may easily reach 30 feet tall and 30 feet wide with several large trunks and has the potential to get much larger. As a member of the willow family, it is related to the poplars and to other willows. Black willow grows in any type of soil, so long as it is permanently wet. Under conditions where this tree is planted on dry land (for erosion control or as a shade tree), it prefers moist, poorly drained soils of variable pH. It is found in zones 4 to 9. Black willow, like most poplars and willows, is susceptible to a broad array of insects and diseases, the most serious of which would usually be cankers and borers that can cause entire branches to die. However, this vigorous woody plant usually grows by leaps and bounds, in spite of occasional minor setbacks. The alternate, light green leaves of black willow are long, thin, and finely serrated, with a very short petiole. They are one of the few willows to have a persistent stipule that encircles the stem, at the junction of the stem and petiole. It is also a willow that has nearly the same leaf color on the underside of the leaf, as compared to the upperside. Fall color is light green or chartreuse before leaf abscission. Black willow is dioecious, as are all willows, having male and female flowers on separate plants. As a result, seeds come from fruits that are only found on female trees. Chains of fruits (known as capsules) bear the seeds, released later in the spring. Stems and twigs of the rapidly growing black willow are bright green, and transition to tan and brown with fissures developing on the branches. The branchlets are brittle at the base, where they join to the branches. With time, the bark develops a dark brown to black color (hence the common name), with scaly, interlacing ridges and deep furrows on the multiple trunks that often originate at water’s edge.