The willows are deciduous trees and shrubs in the genus Salix, part of the willow family Salicaceae.
There are about 350 species in this genus worldwide, found primarily on moist soils in cooler zones in the Northern Hemisphere.
The leaves are deciduous, often elongate but round to oval in a few species, and with a serrated margin.
Willows are dioecious with male and female flowers appearing as catkins on different plants; the catkins are produced early in the spring, often before the leaves or as the new leaves open.
The fruit is a small capsule containing numerous tiny (0.1 mm) seeds embedded in white down, which assists wind dispersal of the seeds.
Willows are very cross-fertile and numerous hybrids are known, both naturally occurring and in cultivation.