Salix caprea

Goat willow

  • Sälg (S)
  • Goat Willow (GB)
  • Salweide (D)
  • Le saule (F)

Goat willow is one of the 20 willow species growing in Finland, and it grows throughout the country. Other tree-like willows growing in Finland are bay willow and dark-leaved willow.


  • Goat willow grows naturally throughout Europe and Asia.
  • In Finland it grows as far as the northernmost Lapland.


  • Goat willow thrives best in fresh and nutritious peaty forests with heavy moss and lichen cover, and alongside water systems and fields. However, it is not demanding in terms of soil.
  • Meadows and sunny places on the edges of forests are also typical habitats.

Growth characteristics

  • It’s usual for goat willow to grow bushy and its limbs can be very thick. It can grow as much as over 15- 20 meters in height. Its lengthwise striped bark and leaves with fuzzy and light coloured undersides distinguish it from other willows.
  • Goat willows are grown separately or as park trees and bushes. Goat willows do not live long, as they seldom reach the age of 50 years.
  • Goat willow withstands storms despite the fact that its root system is shallow. It also withstands temperatures below zero, but the saplings are vulnerable to spring frosts.
  • Willows hybridize easily with each other, and the hybrids usually have characteristics from both species.
  • Goat willow suitable for carpentry should be grown densely enough so it grows a long and a straight trunk. In order for the wood to be of good quality, goat willow must be felled at an early age.
  • Quality goat willow timber has a straight trunk that is limbless from the lower stem, over 20 cm in diameter at chest height and free of rot.

Properties of the wood

  • Goat willow wood is light yellowish or reddish. The heartwood is striped and darker, but it becomes lighter in colour and cracks easily as it dries.
  • The surface of the trunk and the annual rings are wave-like.
  • The wood is soft, flexible, lightweight, tough and quite stable. Thus, it is easy to make joints for example.
  • In outside use goat willow wood rots easily.
  • The weight of air-dry sawn timber is 540 kg/m3.
  • A-class goat willow wood is light. Variation in colour is acceptable because it is typical of the wood. There can also be some rot in the heartwood and small branches.
  • There are no strict requirements for B and C-class wood. Variation in color is desired, because the wood is used to produce decorative items and utility articles.


  • Light-weight goat willow is used for quality carvings, furniture, lathing, and producing utility articles and decorative items.
  • Curly grained wood can be found in the rootstock of goat willow. The best guksis and knife handles are made of it.
  • Burls in the lower stem are excellently suitable material for decorative items and utility articles.
  • The tough bark of goat willow has traditionally been used in leather tanning, braiding and dyeing.
  • The good properties of goat willow have been acknowledged in the carpentry industry, and its use is increasing.