We field occasional botany questions, particularly where related to Chumash ethnobotany. Please direct pure botany questions to the expertise of our neighbors at Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

Which tree is this?


I know this is a common tree in Santa Barbara, but I can't find the i.d.  It grows near Atascadero Creek and I watched Lesser Goldfinches harvesting seeds/nectar? off the blooms. 

Please tell me what species of tree this is. I have attached photos of the flowers and the bark. (Apologies for poor photo quality. And image of tree trunk is now displaying sideways ---- not my doing.)

Thank you.

MiTmite9, Goleta, CA - February 22, 2022

Curator Response

Hi there,

This looks like a willow with catkins (flower clusters). It may be something like Salix lasiandra. Goldfinches love the willow catkins, and most kinds of flowers, fruits, buds, seeds, and the tiny insects that inhabit them.

Stay curious,

Curator Emeritus of Anthropology Jan Timbrook, Ph.D. (ethnobotanist), and Volunteer Manager Rebecca Fagan Coulter (birding instructor)

MiTmite9 response:

Thank you so much for your reply.  I was participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count and wanted to list the tree as a foodsource for Lesser Goldfinches I sighted. Too late now, but it's great to know for future reference. 

Much appreciated.