Effects of soil conditions on survival and growth of black willow cuttings

Environ Manage. 2003 Jun;31(6):748-63. doi: 10.1007/s00267-002-2909-y.


Current streambank restoration efforts focus on providing bank stability, enhancing water quality, and improving woody habitat using native vegetation rather than traditional engineering techniques. However, in most cases harsh site conditions limit restoration success. A two-year field study was conducted at Twentymile Creek, in northern Mississippi, investigating edaphic factors governing the survival of black willow (Salix nigra) cuttings used for streambank restoration. Low height growth, above-ground biomass production, and average leaf area were observed in willow cuttings grown in plots subjected to moisture deficits. However, sediment texture emerged as the dominant factor determining willow post growth, health, and survival. Shoot biomass, leaf biomass, and total above-ground biomass were 15-, 10-, and 14-fold greater for large willow cuttings (posts) grown in plots with sandy sediments relative to those grown in plots with similar moisture and soil redox potential but with silt and clay sediments. Average leaf size, average leaf mass and specific leaf area were all lower in fine textured plots. Under moisture conditions present at our sites, coarse-grained sediment (sand) was more conducive to willow growth, biomass production, and survival than were fine-grained sediments (silt/clay). Our results strongly suggest that soil texture and moisture conditions can determine restoration success. Therefore, it is critical that site conditions are factored into the selection of project locations prior to the initiation of willow planting restoration projects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biomass
  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Environment
  • Geologic Sediments
  • Salix / growth & development*
  • Soil*
  • Survival Analysis
  • Trees*


  • Soil