Species Profile

Green-scaled Willow

Scientific Name: Salix chlorolepis
Other/Previous Names: Salix chlorolepsis
Taxonomy Group: Vascular Plants
Range: Quebec
Last COSEWIC Assessment: April 2006
Last COSEWIC Designation: Threatened
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Threatened

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Quick Links: | Description | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | Recovery Team | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Green-scaled Willow


The Green-scaled Willow is a branched dwarf shrub, typically under 30 cm tall, with erect branchlets. The leaves, which are 2.5 cm long, short-stalked and egg-shaped, widen toward the apex. They are initially dull bluish green on both surfaces, with the upper surface subsequently turning green. The small leaves on the catkin (bracts) are olive green. They turn yellow to buff once the flowers have opened and the pollen has been shed. The catkins of the Green-scaled Willow are hairless and persist through to maturation of the capsule. These spikes, composed of tiny flowers, are short-stalked and 5 to 13 mm long. The male and female catkins are borne on separate shrubs. The male flowers have two small glands near the base. The female flowers have a long style (an extension of the ovary) that is divided into two parts composed of two elongate lobes. The fruit is a short-stalked, hairless red capsule 4 mm long. This species can be confused with the short-fruit willow, which can be distinguished by several criteria, including its densely hairy leaves. The Green-scaled Willow is completely hairless.


Distribution and Population

The Green-scaled Willow occurs exclusively on alpine-type outcrops of serpentine, a rock composed primarily of magnesium silicate, in Gaspésie provincial park, Quebec. So far, the Green-scaled Willow has been inventoried on the slopes of Mont Albert. This species has not been found in any other serpentine areas of North America. In 1994, the Green-scaled Willow was found in four sites in the Vallée du Diable on Mont Albert. In the 2004 inventory, six new sites were discovered on Mont Albert, including several outside the Vallée du Diable. These sites have been grouped into four discrete populations. It is estimated that approximately 300 individual shrubs grow on Mont Albert. While most sites generally have only one or two shrubs, some have up to five or six. However, one site has approximately 200. Not all of the habitats on Mont Albert likely to contain this species have been explored, but it is believed that the total number of shrubs probably does not exceed 1000.



The Green-scaled Willow occurs in alpine tundra (a poorly vegetated habitat), specifically on rocky slopes of serpentine on Mont Albert in full sun between pebbles or gravel or in thin soil that is dry or moderately moist. Historically, the Green-scaled Willow was observed in bog areas in the plateau on the summit. The species’ habitat is strongly correlated with elevation: it is found at elevations between 825 and 1050 m. In serpentine rock formations, concentrations of heavy metals reach toxic levels for most plants. In such conditions, sparse vegetative cover composed of a specific mix of a limited number of species becomes established. On Mont Albert, the Green-scaled Willow occupies the same habitat as other threatened species, such as mountain holly fern and serpentine stitchwort. In Gaspésie provincial park, the most significant habitat disturbances are limited to trampling by hikers on the International Appalachian Trail on Mont Albert.



As in all willows, this perennial shrub is dioecious, i.e., the male flowers and female flowers are on separate shrubs. It flowers from early July to mid-August, after the leaves open. Fruiting begins in late July and continues until the first frosts, in early September. It is generally pollinated by insects and the wind. This would explain the relatively high frequency of hybridization between this species and the short-fruit willow. The seeds of the Green-scaled Willow have a tuft of silky hairs that ensures wind dispersal. The lifespan of the shrub is unknown.



Apart from the fact that the population is composed of a very small number of individuals located on a single mountaintop (rendering the status of the Green-scaled Willow particularly precarious), the main threat to this species is trampling by humans. The most important site for the Green-scaled Willow population is the westernmost part of the Vallée du Diable, adjacent to the International Appalachian Trail on Mont Albert. The willows are exposed to human foot traffic as hikers skirt obstacles on the trail and come into contact with the shrubs. Over the long term, these “detours” make the trail wider and result in damage to or destruction of adjacent plants. The managers of Gaspésie provincial park are attempting to limit the widening of the trail by hikers. All the other sites are inaccessible and no human impacts are anticipated. Hybridization between the Green-scaled Willow and the short-fruit willow is frequent on Mont Albert. A number of hybrids have been observed, so the risk of introgression with the short-fruit willow requires further study. Finally, rusty tussock moth caterpillars have been observed on several occasions on the Green-scaled Willow, and the foliage of some shrubs was severely affected. At present, it is impossible to determine the impact of this insect on the willow population; however, it is likely relatively limited.



Federal Protection

The Green-scaled Willow is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

The Green-scaled Willow is protected in Quebec under the Quebec Act Respecting Threatened or Vulnerable Species. In addition, the sole population of this species is located within a protected area, Gaspésie provincial park.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.


Recovery Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Recovery Strategy for the Green-scaled Willow (Salix chlorolepis) in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry


Recovery Team

CWS-Quebec Species at Risk Recovery Unit

  • Unité du rétablissement des espèces en péril du SCF-QC - Chair/Contact -
    Phone: 1-855-253-6708  Send Email



PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

9 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC assessment and status report on the green-scaled willow Salix chlorolepis in Canada (2006)

    Green-scaled willow (Salix chlorolepis) is a branched dwarf shrub, typically under 30 cm tall, with erect branchlets. The simple leaves are short-stalked and are initially covered with a whitish-waxy coating on both surfaces, with the upper surface subsequently turning green; they are up to 25 mm long, entire, egg-shaped, and widest at the apex, becoming hairless with age. The catkin bracts are hairless, olive green in colour and persist through to the maturation of the capsule. The catkins are short-stalked and measure 5 to 13 mm in length. The staminate flowers (on male plants) have two glands near the base. The pistillate flowers (on female plants) have a style with a bifid stigma consisting of two elongate, divergent lobes. The fruit is a short-stalked, hairless capsule 4 mm long.

COSEWIC Assessments

Response Statements

  • Response Statements - Green-scaled Willow (2006)

    An endemic shrub restricted to the serpentine outcrops of Mount Albert in Gaspésie Provincial Park, Quebec. The low numbers of the shrub located on a single mountain top are at risk from stochastic events, potential impact of the exotic tussock moth, and limited impact from hikers along the Appalachian Trail.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for the Green-scaled Willow (Salix chlorolepis) in Canada (2011)

    Under the Species at Risk Act (S.C. 2002, c. 29) (SARA), the federal competent ministers are responsible for the preparation of recovery strategies for listed Extirpated, Endangered, and Threatened species. The Minister of the Environment is the competent minister for the recovery of the Green-scaled Willow and has prepared this strategy, as per section 37 of SARA. It has been prepared in cooperation with the Government of Quebec. The administrators of Quebec’s Gaspésie Provincial Park were consulted during the development of this document.

Action Plans

  • Action Plan for the Green-scaled Willow (Salix chlorolepis) in Canada (2015)

    This action plan complements the Recovery Strategy for the Green-scaled Willow (Salix chlorolepis) in Canada (Environment Canada 2011). The proposed recovery measures seek to implement the full complement of broad recovery strategies and approaches set out in the recovery strategy for the entire population and distribution of the Green-scaled Willow.


  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Act (2007) (2007)

    This Order acknowledges receipt by the Governor in Council of the assessments of the status of 40 species done pursuant to paragraph 15(1)(a) and in accordance with subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The purpose of SARA is to prevent wildlife species from being extirpated or becoming extinct, to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity and to manage species of special concern to prevent them from becoming endangered or threatened.
  • Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (2007)

    Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, pursuant to section 27 of the Species at Risk Act, hereby makes the annexed Order Amending Schedules 1 to 3 to the Species at Risk Act.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2006 (2006)

    2006 Annual Report to the The Minister of the Environment and the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act Terrestrial Species: December 2006 (2006)

    The Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003 as part of its strategy for the protection of wildlife species at risk. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, hereinafter referred to as the 'SARA list'. Canadians are invited to comment on whether all or some of the species included in this document should be added to the SARA list. Please submit your comments by March 16, 2007 for species undergoing normal consultations and by March 14, 2008 for species undergoing extended consultations.