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Home » Resources » Riparian Ecology » Vegetation and Wildlife Habitat » Restoration Planting Design: Vegetation Structure » Willow Thickets

Willow Thickets

Willow thickets

Willows are fast growing and quickly reach a size that provides both cover and nesting locations. In natural riparian areas, willow thickets form after sandbar, arroyo and black willows colonize newly formed point bars. Other mixed riparian plants, especially young cottonwoods, may be found in this young, early successional habitat. Early successsional habitat is preferred by many migratory songbirds.

The young willows have multiple small, flexible stems which form thickets, or thick walls of stems. Willow thickets typically grow close to the river channel. In this location, willow thickets benefit both terrestrial and aquatic wildlife. They provide protection, nesting, and foraging for wildlife that access the river for water, and they release nutrients into the river that support aquatic life. Willows flower early in the season, providing an early food source for native pollinators.

Willow thicket Willow thicket formed along the river edge