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Black Willow and Dogwood Trees are a Great Choice for the Portage Lake Area

Our garden club, the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive and Onekama's 10th grade science class are working together to propagate and plant black willow and dogwood tree saplings.  Both trees are native to Michigan.  Students propagated the saplings from champion Michigan trees, which means these saplings have superior genetics.   If you are interested in purchasing a sapling in May 2024, or own property where the students can plant the saplings, please click on the link at the bottom of this page.

Black Willow Tree


Fast Facts

about Black Willow Trees


  • Survives high water years that kill other trees

  • Survives tough growing conditions

  • Strong root systems stabilizes erosion

  • Unique roots remove heavy metals from the soil. Used for soil remediation and land restoration.

  • Black Willow trees are NOT Weeping Willow trees. Black Willows are native to Michigan. Weeping Willows are not.

  • Provides early food source for pollinators


The Black Willow Tree (Salix nigra) is native to Michigan. It is a deciduous, fast growing tall tree on single or multiple curved trunks, typically 1-2' thick, topped by a spreading, rounded but sometimes irregular crown. Black Willow has a shallow, spreading root system that is good for stabilizing soils and makes the tree an effective selection for erosion control. The bark of black willow is dark brown to black, developing deep grooves and a rough texture with shaggy scales as it ages.  

Prune as needed in late winter to early spring.

Growth Rate: Fast

Mature Shape: Rounded, sometimes irregular.

Height: 40' - 60'  (Up to 140' in ideal conditions.)

Width:  20' - 40'

Site Requirements:  Plant in sunny and moist locations (near lakes streams, swamps, etc.) Tolerant of clay, loam and sandy soils as long as ample moisture is present. (Soil should not be allowed to dry out.) Can tolerate very wet sites.  Prefers full sun. Avoid full shade.  Don't plant near septic fields as roots will seek out the water in the pipes. 


Red Osier Dogwood Tree


Fast Facts

about Red Osier Dogwood Trees


  • Known as the perfect four season tree. 

  • Survives tough growing conditions

  • Strong root systems stabilizes erosion

  • Unique roots remove heavy metals from the soil. Used for soil remediation and land restoration.

  • Provides early food source for pollinators and three seasons of foods for birds.

  • Exceptionally colorful in the winter.


The Red Osier Dogwood Tree (Cornus stolonifera) is native to Michigan.  It's a really hearty shrub.   


In late May, Red Osier Dogwoods are covered in flat clusters of white flowers which provide valuable nutrients for pollinators. In summer, the flowers are followed by bunches of nutritious white berries that birds enjoy. The berries continue into the fall, providing migrating birds fuel for their long journeys.  In the winter, there are always a few berries left for non-migrating birds.


Red Osier Dogwoods are beautiful year-round, but the red bark and twigs provide much needed color during the winter.  In the spring, they turn bright green. In the fall, the red and purple leaves contrast with autumn’s yellows and oranges. In addition to its beauty and benefit to wildlife, red-osier dogwood is used to control erosion and as a secondary plant for windbreaks. 

It’s easy to trim back and maintain, and doesn’t require much in terms of water or added nutrients.

Growth Rate: Fast

Mature Shape: Rounded

Height: 7-9 feet

Width: 10 feet


Site Requirements: It prefers sunny, wet places, such as the edge of a wetland. However, it can tolerate dry sites and a wide range of soils, including clay and sand.  


Flowering Dates: June - August

Seed Dispersal Dates: May

Seed Bearing Age: 2-6 years 



Archangel Ancient Tree Archive

Corner Pollinator Garden

Forest Preserves of Cook County

Grand Traverse Conservation District

Dogwood Spring Flowers.jpg
Dogwood Spring Berries.jpg
Dogwood Fall 1.jpg
Dogwood Winter 1.jpg

Read More About Black Willow Trees

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