There were a few brave souls who ventured to ID the mystery plant – a trunk shot is not particularly helpful, I know. But I was hoping that its contorted nature might help a little. (It wouldn’t have helped me at all, but you all know by now that I am NOT a taxonomist.)
So our mystery tree is a curly willow (Salix matsudana):
…which may or may not be synonymous with Salix babylonica.
In any case, it’s an interesting tree that’s relatively cold hardy. Like many willows, it has weak wood and is prone to breakage. But in the right location (away from targets) it could be a lovely specimen.