I think I have a pussy willow tree in my backyard. It looks like right now it has some soft pussy willow-type buds coming out of a few areas. We moved to this house not this past May, but the May before. We have NEVER seen any leaves on this tree. An arborist came to our house to look at a few other trees and I asked him to look at this tree and he said it was not dead. I do not know how to find out 1) what kind of tree this is; 2) if it is dead now; 3) if it should have leaves on it at any point during the year; and 4) I do not know what to do to help this tree! Any advice is welcomed. Thank you!!
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
1) The tree does look like a willow, but I'm not sure what species.
2) The buds that you see are actually young catkins, the flowers of willow trees. The ability to produce these certainly shows that the tree is alive.
3) Yes, the tree should have leaves during the spring and summer. Hopefully the catkins show that the tree has been recovering from something that damaged it and is now coming back to life, and hopefully it will produce leaves soon.
4) It is difficult to tell what damaged the tree, but it could be a disease or an environmental condition. If it's near a road, salt or other toxins from the road could have damaged it:
You can also check whether the tree has any signs of the diseases in these articles: