Scientific: Salix matsudana 'Navajo' (synonym Salix babylonica 'Navajo')
Common: Navajo globe willow
Family: Salicaceae
Origin: North and east Asia, China. The cultivar 'Navajo' is thought to be originally a selection from a naturalized willow growing on the Navajo Reservation near Aztec, New Mexico.

Pronounciation: SAY-licks mat-su-DA-na

Hardiness zones
Sunset
All zones
USDA 5-10

Landscape Use: Shade tree, accent, lawn tree, large park tree, golf courses, around water features. This tree is a graceful and dependable performer in high elevation and cold desert landscapes of Arizona.

Form & Character: Large, spreading, round-topped tree, tough and hardy, graceful with suggestions of water nearby.

Growth Habit: Woody, deciduous perennial tree, rapid symmetrical growth, potentially to 70 feet in height, though usually reduced in lower desert.

Foliage/Texture: Leaves light green, linear to 3 inches (shorter than S. babylonica, glandular, often serrate. Branches slender and pendulous, young stems yellowish; fine texture.

Flowers & Fruits: Inconspicuous

Seasonal Color: Light green spring foliage, some yellow foliar fall color.

Temperature: Very cold hardy, but struggles somewhat with the high summer heat of Phoenix.

Light: Full sun

Soil: Tolerant

Watering: Requires ample, regular water in Phoenix, but else where at higher Arizona elevation landscapes takes some drought.

Pruning: Elevate canopy base, structurally train hard when young.

Propagation: Easily rooted by cutting.

Disease and pests: Frothy flux likely caused by a yeast or other saprophytic or secondary organism that invades mostly young trees through wounds, causing fermentation of plant tissue. Other rare or lesser problems include borers, cytospora canker, aphids, and mites.

Additional comments: S. matsudana 'Navajo' is commonly found in landscapes of north Arizona in towns such as Flagstaff, Williams and Page. This willow taxon cultivar is more drought tolerant than other willow taxa. Including 'Navajo', there are several popular S. matsudana cultivars including:

For landscape use, always select willows from nursery stock that have a dominant, straight central leader with obvious thick trunk caliper. Like other species in the genus Salix, the fresh bark of globe willow contains the chemical compound salicin, which probably decomposes into salicylic acid (closely related to aspirin) in the human body. Researchers have found that the leaves of S. matsudana contain five flavonoids which have considerable inhibitory activity against cyclooxygenases (COX-1 and COX-2) and enhanced norepinephrine-induced lipolysis in fat cells (anti-obesity activity). The thin elongated stems of globe willow have been used for weaving wicker baskets.

Taxanomic note: There is presently much uncertainity about the separation of S. matsudana and S. babylonica into two unique taxa. Some taxonomists believe that S. matsudana cannot be morphological differentiated from S. Babylonica.