Corkscrew Willow Tree Care

Updated February 21, 2017

The corkscrew willow tree (Salix matsudana), also known as the curly willow or dragon's claw willow, belongs to the willow tree family and can only grow up to 30 feet high with a spread of 10 to 15 feet. The corkscrew willow can grow practically anywhere and on any kind of soil type. Its beauty comes from its distinct and unique branches. The corkscrew willow earned its name because of the unique growth habit of its branches, which twist and turn upward before reaching out from the boot horizontally. Proper care will ensure that your corkscrew willow tree thrives well.


The curly willow is first and foremost an ornamental tree. Used by most gardeners as an exotic accent because it grows year-round, corkscrew willow tree changes when seasons change. In spring, budding blossoms crown its head, while in summer, it provides a cool shade against the blazing sun. Its leaves turn into shimmering bright yellow hues during the fall. In the winter, the twisted, snow-covered branches provide a nostalgic but homey scenery effect. However, aside from its decorative usefulness, the corkscrew willow tree has medicinal ingredients. According to Earth Keepers, Native Americans have used its bark to relieve pain and fever for centuries because it contains salicylic acid, an active ingredient found in aspirin.

Growth Conditions

Hardy to U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 4 through 8, corkscrew willow tree can grow in any type of soil. Preferring moisture, this tree needs watering during dry seasons. The roots, which are strong enough to cause cracks on pavement and concrete sidewalks, tend to push upward as the tree matures. Planting corkscrew willow trees away from homes and other property structures will prevent damage in the future. The branches of corkscrew willows can crack under extreme winter conditions. Strong windy conditions can uproot or strike down the willow tree; therefore, you may need to add spikes or soil anchors when the trees are still young.

Propagating Corkscrew Willow Trees

Propagate corkscrew willows by taking cuttings from the mother tree and planting them. Keep the roots in water for about two weeks before planting the cuttings in the ground. Digging a hole twice as big as the cutting allows ample room for the corkscrew tree to grow. Plant the cutting at the centre of the hole and mix the soil with peat moss. Then, sand and water to the hole in generous amounts.

Downside to Growing Corkscrew Willows

Corkscrew willows have relatively short lifespan. They also have relatively weak trunks that can break and crack. Like most trees, corkscrew willows have their own share of pest problems. Gypsy moths attack their leaves from spring to summer. Avoid chemical pest control; instead, horticulturists recommend sticky bands around the trunk to trap young gypsy moths before they can travel to the leaves.

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About the Author

Josienita Borlongan is a full-time lead web systems engineer and a writer. She writes for, and various other websites. She is a Microsoft-certified systems engineer and a Cisco-certified network associate. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in medical technology from Saint Louis University, Philippines.