Deciduous broad-crowned tree to 10 m or more tall with long pendulous branchlets. Bark green, reddish on the sunny side, fissured. Branchlets hanging vertically in massed festoons. Leaves lanceolate to linear-lanceolate, 8-15 cm long, 1-2 cm wide, finely toothed and with a long, finely tapered point, dark green above, pale green to waxy below and more or less hairless, even at first; stalk to 1 cm long. Catkins appear with the leaves, 1-2.5 cm long and hardly stalked. The leaves with the catkins are generally toothless, the toothed leaves being at the tips of the branchlets away from the catkins.
Widely naturalised in south-eastern Australia alongside streams; only female plants are recorded. var. babylonica has conspicuously pendent branchlets while var. pekinensis occurs only as the cultivar 'Tortuosa'.
Leaves hairless and pale green below with long-tapered, thread-like wavy tips; short catkins on stalks 1-3 mm long. Many plants referred to under this name may be better placed in S. ×sepulcralis and S. ×pendulina; S. babylonica generally has several pale (not dark) glands on the leaf stalk towards the top, and more or less stalkless catkins.
ACT: Molonglo River; Red Hill (Flinders Way). VIC: Emerald (Emerald Lake Park); Castlemaine (Castlemaine Botanical Gardens).
var. pekinensis A. Henry 'Tortuosa' Twisted Willow (Tortured Willow)
Deciduous, domed tree 10-15 m tall on a short, stout trunk or sometimes with multiple stems when naturalised. Branches twisted, pendulous and corkscrew-like. Leaves curled 8-12 cm long, 1-2 cm wide, concave, finely toothed, slightly glaucous below, changing to yellow in autumn. Leaf stalk 4-8 mm long. [S. matsudana Koidz. 'Tortuosa']
Naturalised in NSW and Vic.
NSW: Orange (Cook Park). VIC: Bogong township by lake; Carlton (Carlton Gardens (Lodge); Paradise (nursery at the end of the road); South Yarra (corner Alexander Parade. & Anderson Streets); Sunshine (HV McKay Memorial Gardens); Williamstown (Williamstown Botanic Gardens).
Source: (1997). Salicaceae. In: . Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 2. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 1. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.