Description from Flora of China
Shrubs large; bark dull gray. Branchlets yellowish, at first tomentulose, glabrescent. Buds flattened oblong-lanceolate. Stipules reniform, margin dentate; petiole 3-4 mm; leaf blade elliptic, obovate-elliptic, broadly elliptic, or obovate to suborbicular, 3-7 cm, abaxially greenish, glabrous, tomentulose when young, adaxially dull green, base cuneate or broadly cuneate, margin entire, rarely irregularly remotely dentate, apex acute. Flowering precocious or nearly coetaneous. Male catkin sessile; bracts obovate-oblong, apex dull brown to nearly black, obtuse. Male flower: gland adaxial; stamens 2, distinct; filaments downy at base. Female catkin 1-2 cm, to 4 cm in fruit, with short peduncle and leaflets. Female flower: ovary long conical, densely gray tomentose; stipe ca. 1 mm; style short; stigma capitate. Capsule ca. 5 mm, gray pubescent. Fl. May, fr. Jun.
Chinese records of the European Salix aurita Linnaeus are referable to S. iliensis.
Woods; 1400-2700 m. Xinjiang (Kunlun Shan, Tian Shan) [Afghanistan, S Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan]