April 10, 2010


One of the many splendors of springtime for children are
          Pussy Willows.

Pussy Willows
Close your eyes
And do not peek
And I’ll rub Spring
Across your cheek  
 ~Aileen Fisher

"Soft",  "fuzzy", "silky" ," like fur" 
are some of the words the children use to describe them.
   It's a wondrous experience for the children (and adults!) to focus on that one tree (shrub) and see the transformation ...from bare tree with buds . . .
to pussy willows peeking out . . .

to the catkins fully formed and fuzzy . . .

to the flowering , the burst of bloom

the catkins looking like little fireworks 

Dot McGinnis has written a precious poem, The Legend of Pussy Willows.
I have permission to include it here for your enjoyment.

The Legend of Pussy Willows.

A Polish legend tells the tale
Of tiny kittens, oh, so frail.

Along the river's edge they chased.
With butterflies, they played and raced.

They came too close to the river's side
And, thus, fell in. Their mother cried.

What could she do but weep and moan?
Her babies' fate were yet unknown.

The willows, by the river, knew
Just what it was that they must do.

They swept their graceful branches down
Into the waters, all around.

To reach the kittens was their goal;
A rescue mission, heart and soul.

The kittens grasped the branches tight.
The willows saved them from their plight.

Each springtime since, the story goes,
Willow branches now wear clothes.

Tiny fur like buds are sprung
Where little kittens once had clung.

And that’s the legend, so they claim,
How Pussy Willows Got Their Name!

~Dot McGinnis
 Copyright 2005

And check out this adorable craft, Bunny Willows , using pom poms, felt, and a tree branch from that artist woman.

Pussy Willow Info:
 Pussy willow trees are native to wetlands of Canada and the eastern U.S. As a willow, the trees are part of the genus, Salix
The terminology pussy willows is used loosely to refer both to the trees themselves and to the furry buds on its branches (also known as "catkins").

Willow buds are second only to the buds of poplars as preferred food of ruffed grouse. Beaver,  muskrat, red squirrel, and snowshoe hare all include willow in their diet. The leaves are rich in Vitamin C and zinc.
 Pussy willows are an important nesting site for American goldfinch, while other songbirds use them to a lesser degree. The cover and protection thickets of willow provide are probably of equal importance to wildlife as its food value. Deer also like to eat the branches of pussy willows.

Pussy Willow branches can be forced indoors and then used as a dry arrangement .

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