Salix setchelliana is a creeping dwarf shrub to low shrub with distinctive fleshy, light green leaves and pinkish fleshy carpels. This species is endemic to large glacial floodplains in Alaska and neighboring areas and occurs in several large rivers systems in Denali. Plants can grow up to 30 cm tall, with grayish- to reddish-brown branches. Young twigs are densely wooly. Leaves are hairless, oblanceolate to oblong in outline; light green, and somewhat thick and fleshy. Willows are dioecious (that is, individual plants produce either male or female flowers only) and the flowers are highly reduced and borne in catkins specialized for wind pollination. Catkins develop with the leaves, female catkins are densely flowered, dark red, and can be quite showy. Capsules are large, hairless and dark red. This is the only willow in Denali that can be found creeping along river gravel bars and has fleshy, light green leaves and fleshy, hairless capsules.
Leaves and catkins develop together around mid-June.
S. setchelliana is dioecious, and insect and wind pollinated. Seeds have attached hairs to aid in wind dissemination. It also readily spreads vegetatively via root shoots.
S. setchelliana is too diminutive to be of any value to humans.
Salix setchelliana is an endemic montane species that occurs only in Alaska and southwestern Yukon. In Alaska S. setchelliana occurs from the Alaska Range south and east. In Denali, this species occurs on large glacial gravel bars on both sides of sides of the Alaska Range.