Salix discolor is a weak-wooded deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 6 m (20 ft) tall, with brown shoots. The leaves are oval, 3–14 cm long and 1–3.5 cm broad, green above and downy grey-white beneath. The flowers are soft silky silvery catkins, borne in early spring before the new leaves appear, with the male and female catkins on different plants; the male catkins mature yellow at pollen release. Pussy willows can be kept compact and shrub-like through proper pruning. In spring, they serve as specimen plants for the lawn, or you can use them for privacy screens or borders. Deer, squirrels, and birds like to eat the branches of pussy willows.