The Smallest Tree in the World Can Fit In The Palm Of Your Hand!

I want you to imagine a forest full of trees. You’ll likely picture lots of different tall trees in your mind’s eye with all the colorful flowers, fruits, and wildlife that may be among them as well. But a forest filled with the shortest tree is more likely to resemble a large field of grass!

Snowbed willow (Salix herbacea) is a very short tree that, on average, only grows to heights of about 0.2–2.4 inches or 0.5–6 cm. It is considered the smallest tree in the world by many but some contest the notion because this woody plant lacks a thick trunk which is characteristic of most trees.

This interesting tree won’t be towering over you—but you will definitely tower over it no matter how short you may be!

What the Shortest Tree Looks Like
What the Shortest Tree Looks Like

You see, this cute little tree rarely even grows any taller than 2.5 inches. It also lacks the sturdy branches we normally think of at the mention of the word “tree”.

So no matter how big it may get, you won’t be able to take shelter from the sun under the shade it can create.

What Does the Shortest Tree Look Like?

A snowbed willow, also called dwarf willow, typically has a smooth erect main stem—serving as its truck—ranging from reddish brown to purple in color.

It can also develop brown branchlets which may either have hints of yellow or red.

The green leaves of this small willow tree are rather wide and circular. Around the margin, they may be completely rounded or somewhat serrated.

Like most willow trees, it also grows flowering spikes. But instead of blooming in spring, snowbell willow flowers put on a show during summer, from late June to mid-August.

Yellow Snowbed Willow Catkins
Daniel Barthelemy (cc-by-sa) PlantNet – Yellow Snowbed Willow Catkins

Moreover, the male catkins of snowbed willow are yellow while the red ones are female.

How Big Do Dwarf Willow Trees Get?

There is actually a record for this!

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the shortest species of Artic tree—referring to dwarf or snowbed willows—can grow as big as 2.5 inches or 6.4 cm.

Others, however, argue that this plant (no matter how interesting it is) shouldn’t be considered a tree at all since it lacks a substantial trunk covered in thick bark. Its size also remains a big part of this contention.

Keep in mind though, that there is no single definition of the word “tree” that’s recognized as the only true or correct one.

If we were to follow Utah State University’s definition the snowbed willow shouldn’t be considered a tree since it doesn’t grow up to 10 feet (3 m).

But if we followed Merriam-Webster, it can be counted as a tree!

a: a woody perennial plant having a single usually elongate main stem generally with few or no branches on its lower part
b: a shrub or herb of arborescent form

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

Where is the Smallest Tree in the World Located?

Snowbed willows only grow around the Northern Hemisphere across the world over wet soils and mosses—particularly, in mountainous sub-Arctic and Arctic regions.

You may see from the Appalachian mountains all the way to Europe among other places. But you can also see it growing at around sea level in the freezing Arctic.

In other words, it has an amphi-Atlantic distribution on Earth. This also means that you don’t necessarily need to fly to another country just to catch a glimpse of its beauty!


  • “Salix herbacea L.” by George W. Argus, James E. Eckenwalder, and Robert W. Kiger in SEINet

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