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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Tree Tuesday: Golden Weeping Willow

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Every Tuesday, Todd Irvine of LEAF posts a stop from the Toronto Tree Tours, a collaborative project of LEAF and the Toronto Public Space Committee. The Toronto Tree Tours offers walking tours in neighbourhoods across the city as well as virtual tours on its web site. The aim is to introduce Torontonians to the individual trees in their neighbourhood while telling stories of our city’s ecological and cultural history.

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Bain Co-operative Tree Tour: Stop 6

This lovely golden weeping willow (Salix alba “Tristis”) in a rear yard on the north side of Sparkhall Avenue is an attractive specimen with a full healthy crown. The tree was likely planted by the owners of the yard in which it grows as the tree is not native to the region and rarely self-seeds.

The golden weeping willow is a fast growing tree that is easily identified by its bright yellow twigs and long, graceful branches that sweep towards the ground. The branches are extremely flexible, allowing the tree to absorb heavy winds dispersing their forces and reducing the strain on the trunk and stems. Willows are water-demanding, with a tree of this size able to take up more than a 1000 litres on a warm summer’s day.

Before this area was developed at the turn of the last century it was a marshy low-land fed by a stream that ran down from the north around Hampton Avenue. All streams in the area were channeled into sewers at the time of development but the groundwater still flows as it did, providing the searching roots of this tree with the water it requires to grow.

Read more stories from the Bain Co-operative tree tour . . .

Photograph by Michael Pereira



  1. This is a remarkably resilient tree. There is an old one growing in a backyard facing Felstead Park, near Danforth & Greenwood. About 10 years ago or so I heard a giant “CRACK!” early in the morning through the window one summer day that sounded like a gunshot or something. The next day I found that all that was left of this majestic weeping willow was the main trunk, probably at least 3-4 feet in diameter and about 15 feet tall. Since then it sprouted all kinds of new shoots from the old trunk and these have now become its new branches. I’m glad the homeowner didn’t take it down, as it had been a huge tree, but allowed it to make a comeback and maintain the character of the laneway.

  2. We used to swing like tarzan from these crybaby trees when we were kids. Now we are too fat.

  3. What you should also know is the root system is massive and is probably ruining the foundation on the homes near by as well as any utilities under ground.