Golden Curls Willow

Last updated : 12 May 2015

Golden Curls Willow, Salix matsudana tortuosa

The Golden Curls Willow, also called Corkscrew Willow by some,  is a fun and interesting tree with an elegant and graceful appearance.

Golden Curls Willow

Golden Curls Willow


Quick and Easy Way to Make Money at Home Growing Plants
Golden Curls Weeping Willow

Golden Curls Weeping Willow

This Golden Curls Weeping Willow is in my front yard.  At the end of the growing season I always trim it up about as high as I can reach.  Took this photo in early April and by the end June if not sooner the new growth reach all the way to the ground and I’ll trim it up again.  I trim this tree about three times each growing season, but trimming it is easy and when it’s weeping almost to the ground it is very eye catching.  And . . . I’ve also three swings that hang from this tree during the summer for the grandkids.

Golden Curls Weeping Willow Tree

Golden Curls Weeping Willow Tree

I promised you a summer photo of the Golden Curls Willow.  If you look closely I’ve replaced one of the kids swings with a swing for Grandma and Grandpa!  Pam loves the new swing.  I mounted it as high in the tree as I could so it has plenty of travel when it swings.

Golden Curls Willow is an interesting plant because it was discovered by my late good friend and horticultural genius Charlie Beardslee right here in Perry, Ohio.  Charlie found this somewhat crazy looking plant with it’s contorted branches twisted like a pigs tail growing on the edge of his pond behind his nursery.  So he just left the tree right there on the edge of the pond, but he immediately started taking cuttings and propagating his new find.  From those cuttings he took more cuttings and from those he took even more.

And in a relatively short period of time Charlie had produced over 100,000 of the Golden Curls Willow.  Then he put the word out about his find and the plant buying world went crazy and Charlie had no problem whatsoever selling those 100,000 plants and Beardslee Nursery as well as thousands of other nurseries around the world are still reproducing this plant by the hundreds of thousands of plants each year.  Could be millions a year, I don’t honestly know.

The Golden Curls Willow is a fast growing tree and unlike most trees it will tolerate wet ground.  It does well in hardiness zones 4 through 8.  The twisted branches are so interesting that they are often sold to floral shops to use in flower arrangements.  If this tree has a negative side, like many willows it drops a lot of dead branches when the wind kicks up.  Most are so small I just run them over with my mower, a few I have to pick up.  In the spring I usually have to rake up around the tree.

It is a vigorous grower, and because of its weeping effect it will weep all the way to the ground.  Two or three times a year I go around mine, underneath and trim it up to as far as I can reach so it looks like a really large umbrella when I’m done.

I just bought the small Golden Curls Willow that you see in the top photo.  My intention is to plant it over at the nursery and from that single plant I will eventually take thousands and thousands of cuttings.   Think about that.  I paid around $20.00 for that plant.  I will reproduce that one plant over and over and over, probably until the end of my days.

Do you have any idea how much I, or you can make from a single plant?  My late friend Charlie grew 100,000 of them before he told anybody that he had it.  And that was in the late 1960’s as I recall.  Then he and his son, and grandson have gone on reproducing and selling Golden Curls Willows for almost 40 years now.  It truly is a hot seller!

But these kinds of opportunities are not limited to just the Golden Curls Willow.  You can do this with just about any plant that is not patented and there are thousands you can choose from.

Get Started Growing and Selling Plants Today!



  1. Maryl says

    Mike, you mentioned you have tree swings for your grandchildren. I would like to have one hanging from a large white oak branch but am worried about damaging this magnificent tree. How about an article about how you do it. There is a lot of conflicting info on the web.
    I live in Minnesota and Oak wilt has appeared in our state. Do you think it is too risky to touch this tree?

    • says


      I’m stepping out of my true area of expertise but people have been swinging from tree since the beginning of time. I screw hooks into the tree. The wood below the cambium layer is dead, so a hook is only damaging a very small amount of outside tissue. To wrap something around a branch could easily kill that branch. I won’t tell you my method is safe, but if you look around, think back into your childhood, I’d say it’s a common practice.

  2. Peggy Hassel says

    Hi Mike,
    Do you ever sell the curly willow branches you trim off? Or do you know of anyone else that sells them?
    I have my Daughter’s Wedding coming up next Saturday 6/9/13. The willow branches are to be laced with white larkspur for her table center pieces. Any help you could provide, would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you,

  3. sheila @Napoleon, Mo. says

    Just a little FYI, mamosia, (or pramosia, as my grandma called them) can be started from seeds, which are found in the pods they produce. I have ended up with some really beautiful trees over the years. I often pull babies, (baby trees) out of my flower beds – I wish you ladies asking about these were close, I’d be glad to share…God bless all gardeners!

  4. Anonymous says

    Mike, I would like to order the Weeping Nootka Cypress. Could I use it as a smaller bush by keeping it pruned? I suppose that would be too cruel to abuse a Cypress that wants to grow the highest of all trees.

    Bonnie Geraci, St. Louis, Mo PS I love your news ! I have not been able to blog to you. Perhaps something is not correct with my computer.

  5. Toby Black says

    I have been looking for these for some time, anyone with a line on these I would really appreciate a comment on how I can acquire these for my property…..

  6. Linda says

    Cork screw willow comes in two colors.
    Red and yellow. They have a short life span, usually about 20 years from what my research has said on this type of tree.

    Yes willow roots in water well. I have also rooted willows in soil.

    If you root in water, when changing the water use the old water as a rooting hormone for other plants. Willows contain a natural rooting hormone that help plants develop a strong rooting system.


  7. Ellen Kania says

    Mike, I heard one time that a person hit the wisteria plant with a baseball bat to wake it up and it bloomed!

    • says

      Ellen, you and I are both going to get hate mail for this so I would not recommend such a thing. But I do know that trees growing in a nursery field that get damaged by a cultivator or run over by a truck because they are on the end of a row seem to bloom the best. I think it has to do with the severe injury slowing down the growing process and the fast growing plant all of a sudden has time to make flower buds. Wisteria grown from seed are considered to be poor bloomers. Cuttings from a profuse bloomer will produce a profuse blooming plant.

  8. Nancy Lee says

    I have a cork screw willow but it’s no where as big as yours..and did you know you can root these trees in water?? Just cut a few limbs and put them in a bucket by the water faucet outside for the summer and they will have roots in no time. Yours is beautiful..

    • says

      Diana, when a patened plant is sold the patent information and a “do not propagate” notice will appear on the label. There is also a plant patent database that I never use because it’s difficult to use, confusing and therefore I don’t trust the results. People who have my Backyard Growing System discover exactly how I know whether or not the plants that I propagate are patented or not.

  9. Margret says

    Thank you for your e-mails, with all the great information. I just wish I had water on my dry land.
    Best regards from Iceland.

  10. Anonymous says

    Stupid tree spreads cottony seeds, weeps sap,and sheds twigs all over, most messy
    tree ever growen. We were sure glad to get
    rid of it!

  11. Rachel says

    O My that is BEAUTIFUL! How old is that willow? In my area we don’t have a lot of willows and I just love their beauty.

    • says

      Sharon, thanks for sharing this info. It’s always great to hear from people in warm climates about what will and will not do well for them. I’ve got a Backyard Grower in Alabama is doing really, really well with Japanese maples. Surprised me, but she has proven that it can be done. And that’s why I love my members. They do amazing things.

  12. says

    Can this golden curls willow be made into a bonsai? I do some bonsai plants but also others.I’ve air layered numerous gardenias. Very easy. This willow though looks interesting. Also I have some cuttings of a river oak I want to root. Has anyone had any success with these & would they work as the others that are propagated by cuttings?

  13. Julia Peyton says

    It is truly amazing how easily cuttings of corkscrew willow root. I have grown many into 1 gallon containers. At a recent school benefit swap meet, the willows were the first to go, at $5.99 each! I have a wet spot in my yard and that is where the mother tree has gone. I expect to root many more willows and other wonderful plants I have in the future.

  14. Jack Duncan says

    Hello Mike ! I recently purchased a weeping willow tree ( Salix Babylonica). I live in a very warm region near Temecula , Ca..Will my tree be hard to grow here? I only know they require a lot of water. Does this tree develop a massive root ball and how much space should I allow it ? The leaves are starting to turn a slight shade of yellow . I am either over watering or the plant is lacking some nutrients. I hope the sun is not too strong for them to do well here. I have only seen a few here but they seem to do alright . Can you give some advice, please ! Thank you for all your help ! Jack

  15. Renee Causey says

    Hey Mike,
    Love your web page. l also love getting your e-mails. I do have a question on the willow, We bought a house that is 8 years old and it has a willow in the side yard. It is about 18′ tall. My husband has always wanted a willow, however it makes such a mess. Every week there is bunches of dead limbs all around the tree. The mower will pick some up, but most are so small, we have to rake them up.
    I was wondering if maybe the tree needed nutrients or something. I mean is this normal. When we bought the house last July, I kept cutting the limbs as far up as i could reach. I just hate it. I think my husband is ready to cut it down also. Any suggestions?

    • says

      Renee, that’s pretty much the nature of the willow tree. Mine drops branches when the wind blows hard. Most I just mow over. They’re a little more work than most trees, but more unique than most trees.

  16. Beverly says

    Mike, love all your brilliant info. and real care for all of us! Daughter gave me a weeping pussy willow about a year ago….have no earthly idea how to make it stay “pussy willow”! Now just has leaves on the stems….no little “kitties”. What to do???

  17. JoAn Bugner says

    Mike, I have a garden high back bench seat made from the branches of this tree. It is so neat to see and is under a hugh willow tree in my front yard.

  18. Ruby says

    Would love to have this tree in my yard. I’m in Zone 6 so I’m thrilled it’ll survive here.
    I do need to know how far I should plant it away from my septic tank, house foundation and the Algonquin Gas pipeline that runs along the periphery of my lot.

  19. Laura says

    I think this must be the same plant as the one that we call in the floral industry “Curly Willow.” No self-respecting florist would be without Curly Willow for adding that special touch to a floral design or dish garden. I have noticed that when we keep it in a bucket with water it will start rooting! Kept in the cooler, even out of water, the branches will stay fresh and green for many months.

  20. Jonathan says

    Hi Mike I have had one of these planted for about 3 years now, was about 8 feet tall when I bought it and is now about 15 feet tall. But the branches are growing mainly upright, and looks kind of scraggly. Any recommendations?


  21. Marshall Massie says

    Dear Mike, Does your system include any contacts for elephant ear plant ( alocasia or colocasia ) starts possibily on West Coast? I am in california. Thanks so much, Marshall

  22. Monica says

    I have one of these I grew from a cutting. It’s 3 years old and is about 8 feet tall. Very fast grower. I keep it trimmed and love to watch it blowing in a breeze.

  23. Marsha Johnson says

    Love reading your pages. A bit of “home”, displaced country girl.
    Am putting some lime on a wisteria that is 80 feet (almost) into the evergreen tree it is growing on. It is maybe 100 years old and hasn’t bloomed in the 15 years I’ve lived here. (my nieghbors abandoned the place so I am experimenting anyway). I read to “keep it away from trees”. Not sure the pine is the problem…..can I root cuttings that will bloom in my lifetime? Thanks for sharing…

  24. Julia Griffith says

    We just moved into our new home & planted an 8-9 year old golden curl wiilow, aka corkscrew willow that my beloved, late father-in-law had in his OK nursery. There were 2 but the other was too big for the car! We planted it in our KS garden in his honor & it is thriving. We love it & wil always remember Dad when we watch it grow!

  25. says

    I have used branches from this willow for many years in flower arrangements. It roots so quickly that if there is even a little life left in the willow, it will root in the vase before the other flowers have faded!

  26. Chris Raarup says

    Hi Mike, How do these things develop? Do you think the one your friend discovered was the first one or were there others?
    That’s crazy that it just popped up out of nowhere. I enjoy your column,
    Cheers, Chris

    • says

      Chris, plants that are discovered like this are called “chance seedlings”. Out of tens of thousands of seedlings, every once in a while one doesn’t act the same as the others and the world is lucky if a nurseryman is nearby to find it.

  27. Robin D says

    my son got married 2010 and his wife had a cutting in the flowers on the tables, I brought mine home and started it (very easy) it’s now about 4′ high. we’re in Goldendale, WA it’s doing well even thru winter.

  28. Kay says

    Just watch where you plant it. Their root system can crack walkways, driveways, even foundations, and get tangled in water and sewer lines.

  29. Russell says

    My parents had one of these in northern Illinois and I always loved it. It really got huge fast, as I recall, and the soil was very heavy with clay. I still have many of the long twisted branches in my home.

  30. MAP says

    Wonder how good a root system it had? I had 3 huge willows topple over in our former farm and have kept away from willows since.

    • says

      Bert, the one in my yard is about 30′, been there about 15 years. I’m sure you can keep them down if you like with regular pruning, but they still get pretty wide.

  31. Valerie Kite says

    I have a willow in back yard. In the front I have a flowering peach of which I may be able to send seeds.

    • Beverly Wood says

      If you get any seeds and there easy to grow, I would mind a few seeds. I love my plants and tree, all I have is weeping willows.

  32. Nancy Jamison says

    Have you seen the scarlet curled willow. Just like the golden, except in the spring the twigs have a reddish tint.
    Also, are you familiar with flat stem pussy willow. This is one I really love and it is great in flower arrangements.

      • Herb Granger says

        i would just like one i told you before i’m to old to start all that digging and planting business,as much is i would like to,,but i would like to get just one of that wonderful tree and can you prone ma regular willow the same way as you prun that three..thank you for your wonderful emails .i Waite for them each week Herb Granger

      • Lynette Pullin says

        I have a corkscrew will my aunt starts them I need replant mine I have it in a wine barrel right now.

    • Mary Sutterby says

      Mike, I have a few myself. My husband brought a limb home from the golf course that a twisted willow had “thrown to the ground” and from that we have started several trees, my biggest one is about 25 feet tall with a bottom width of about 15 feet. I absolutely love it. It is so graceful and when the wind is blowing, Heavenly. Yes , they do grow fast and are so easy !

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