Salix babylonica "Tortuosa" (also known as Salix matsudana "Tortuosa"), on its common name Twisted willow, Chinese Corkscrew willow or Dragon's Claw willow, is a fast growing, deciduous, very attractive tree with a highly ornamental value of the Salix family. It’s a fully hardy tree that can tolerate hard frosts but in the first years it might need some protection during very cold winters.
It looks wonderful growing beside a pond or as a specimen in border because of its architectural shape. It is also a highly ornamental plant with a winter interest, because of the winter branch pattern, specially against a light background. Its branches grow upwards in irregular spirals, contorted and twisted in all direction. Young shoots are usually used in flower arrangements.
Small, non-showy, pale yellow female catkins appear in mid to late spring. Lance-shaped leaves are bright green above and whitish-green below, become golden-yellow in autumn and are also curled and twisted. The branches are olive-green in color and on old trees they are often covered with lichen.
Twisted willow will grow well on moist to wet, well-drained soils, in a place with full sun or partial shade. The tree can reach up to 10 m tall, but to keep it in good shape and looking interesting is best to prune it heavily every year in late winter to early spring. Because of this hard pruning, trees will need to be fertilized every few years.
Propagation can be easily done in spring from cuttings, before the leaves emerge.