See List of _Salix_ species
WILLOWS, also called SALLOWS, and OSIERS, form the genus _SALIX_,
around 400 species of deciduous trees and shrubs , found primarily on
moist soils in cold and temperate regions of the
Northern Hemisphere .
Most species are known as willow, but some narrow-leaved shrub species
are called OSIER, and some broader-leaved species are referred to as
Old English _sealh_, related to the
Latin word _salix_,
willow). Some willows (particularly arctic and alpine species) are
low-growing or creeping shrubs; for example, the dwarf willow (_Salix
herbacea _) rarely exceeds 6 cm (2.4 in) in height, though it spreads
widely across the ground.
* 1 Description
* 1.1 Flowers
* 2 Cultivation
* 3 Hybrids
* 4 Ecological issues
* 5 Pests and diseases
* 6 Uses
* 6.1 Medicine
* 6.2 Manufacturing
* 6.3 Other
* 7 Culture
* 8 Selected species
* 9 See also
* 10 References
* 11 Bibliography
* 12 External links
At the base of the petiole a pair of stipules form. These may
fall in spring, or last for much of the summer or even for more than
one year (marcescence ).
Willows all have abundant watery bark sap , which is heavily charged
with salicylic acid , soft, usually pliant, tough wood , slender
branches, and large, fibrous, often stoloniferous roots . The roots
are remarkable for their toughness, size, and tenacity to life, and
roots readily sprout from aerial parts of the plant.
The leaves are typically elongated, but may also be round to oval,
frequently with serrated edges. Most species are deciduous ;
semievergreen willows with coriaceous leaves are rare, e.g. _Salix
micans_ and _S. australior_ in the eastern
Mediterranean . All the
buds are lateral; no absolutely terminal bud is ever formed. The buds
are covered by a single scale. Usually, the bud scale is fused into a
cap-like shape, but in some species it wraps around and the edges
overlap. The leaves are simple, feather-veined, and typically
linear-lanceolate. Usually they are serrate, rounded at base, acute or
acuminate. The leaf petioles are short, the stipules often very
conspicuous, resembling tiny, round leaves, and sometimes remaining
for half the summer. On some species, however, they are small,
inconspicuous, and caducous (soon falling). In color, the leaves show
a great variety of greens, ranging from yellowish to bluish.
Young male catkin
Willows are dioecious , with male and female flowers appearing as
catkins on separate plants; the catkins are produced early in the
spring, often before the leaves.
The staminate (male) flowers are without either calyx or corolla ;
they consist simply of stamens, varying in number from two to 10,
accompanied by a nectariferous gland and inserted on the base of a
scale which is itself borne on the rachis of a drooping raceme called
a catkin, or ament. This scale is square, entire, and very hairy. The
anthers are rose-colored in the bud, but orange or purple after the
flower opens; they are two-celled and the cells open longitudinally.
The filaments are threadlike, usually pale brown, and often bald.
The pistillate (female) flowers are also without calyx or corolla,
and consist of a single ovary accompanied by a small, flat nectar
gland and inserted on the base of a scale which is likewise borne on
the rachis of a catkin. The ovary is one-celled, the style two-lobed,
and the ovules numerous.
Almost all willows take root very readily from cuttings or where
broken branches lie on the ground. The few exceptions include the goat
Salix caprea _) and peachleaf willow (_
Salix amygdaloides _).
One famous example of such growth from cuttings involves the poet
Alexander Pope , who begged a twig from a parcel tied with twigs sent
from Spain to Lady Suffolk . This twig was planted and throve, and
legend has it that all of England's weeping willows are descended from
this first one.
Willows are often planted on the borders of streams so their
interlacing roots may protect the bank against the action of the
water. Frequently, the roots are much larger than the stem which grows
Willows are very cross-compatible, and numerous hybrids occur, both
naturally and in cultivation. A well-known ornamental example is the
weeping willow (_Salix × sepulcralis_), which is a hybrid of Peking
Salix babylonica _) from China and white willow (_Salix alba
_) from Europe. A Weeping Willow, an example of a hybrid between
two types of willow
The hybrid cultivar 'Boydii' has gained the Royal Horticultural
Award of Garden Merit .
Knotted willow and woodpile in the
Bourgoyen-Ossemeersen , Ghent
Willows are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera
species , such as the mourning cloak butterfly . Ants, such as wood
ants , are common on willows inhabited by aphids , coming to collect
aphid honeydew , as sometimes do wasps .
A small number of willow species were widely planted in Australia,
notably as erosion -control measures along watercourses. They are now
regarded as invasive weeds , and many catchment management authorities
are removing and replacing them with native trees.
Willow roots spread widely and are very aggressive in seeking out
moisture; for this reason, they can become problematic when planted in
residential areas, where the roots are notorious for clogging French
drains , drainage systems , weeping tiles , septic systems , storm
drains , and sewer systems , particularly older, tile, concrete, or
ceramic pipes . Newer, PVC sewer pipes are much less leaky at the
joints, and are therefore less susceptible to problems from willow
roots; the same is true of water supply piping.
PESTS AND DISEASES
Willow species are hosts to more than a hundred aphid species,
belonging to _Chaitophorus_ and other genera, forming large colonies
to feed on plant juices, on the underside of leaves in particular.
Corythucha elegans _, the willow lace bug, is a bug species in the
family Tingidae found on willows in North America.
Rust , caused by fungi of genus _
Melampsora _, is known to damage
leaves of willows, covering them with orange spots.
The leaves and bark of the willow tree have been mentioned in ancient
Sumer and Egypt as a remedy for aches and fever
, and in
Ancient Greece the physician
Hippocrates wrote about its
medicinal properties in the fifth century BC. Native Americans across
Americas relied on it as a staple of their medical treatments. It
provides temporary pain relief.
Salicin is metabolized into salicylic
acid in the human body, and is a precursor of aspirin . In 1763, its
medicinal properties were observed by the
Reverend Edward Stone in
England. He notified the
Royal Society , which published his findings.
The active extract of the bark, called salicin, was isolated to its
crystalline form in 1828 by Henri Leroux , a French pharmacist, and
Raffaele Piria , an Italian chemist, who then succeeded in separating
out the compound in its pure state. In 1897,
Felix Hoffmann created a
synthetically altered version of salicin (in his case derived from the
Spiraea _ plant), which caused less digestive upset than pure
salicylic acid. The new drug, formally acetylsalicylic acid , was
Aspirin by Hoffmann's employer
Bayer AG . This gave rise to the
hugely important class of drugs known as nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs ).
Some of humans' earliest manufactured items may have been made from
willow. A fishing net made from willow dates back to 8300 BC. Basic
crafts, such as baskets , fish traps, wattle fences and wattle and
daub house walls, were often woven from osiers or withies (rod-like
willow shoots, often grown in coppices ). One of the forms of Welsh
coracle boat traditionally uses willow in the framework. Thin or split
willow rods can be woven into wicker , which also has a long history.
The relatively pliable willow is less likely to split while being
woven than many other woods, and can be bent around sharp corners in
Willow wood is also used in the manufacture of boxes ,
brooms , cricket bats , cradle boards , chairs and other furniture,
dolls , flutes , poles , sweat lodges , toys , turnery, tool handles,
veneer , wands and whistles . In addition, tannin , fibre , paper ,
rope and string can be produced from the wood.
Willow is also used in
the manufacture of double basses for backs, sides and linings, and in
making splines and blocks for bass repair.
_ Male catkin of
Salix cinerea _ with bee _
Willow tree in
Willow tree with woodbine honeysuckle
The willow tree as seen as the main part of an heraldic escutcheon
over the main portal of a patrician house belonging to the Salis
Chur , Switzerland, circa_ 1750 _ Environmental art
installation "Sandworm " in the Wenduine Dunes, Belgium, made entirely
out of willow
* AGRICULTURE: Willows produce a modest amount of nectar from which
bees can make honey, and are especially valued as a source of early
pollen for bees. Poor people at one time often ate willow catkins that
had been cooked to form a mash.
Willow is used to make charcoal (for drawing) and in living
sculptures . Living sculptures are created from live willow rods
planted in the ground and woven into shapes such as domes and tunnels.
Willow stems are used to weave baskets and three-dimensional
sculptures, such as animals and figures.
Willow stems are also used to
create garden features, such as decorative panels and obelisks.
Willow is grown for biomass or biofuel , in energy
forestry systems, as a consequence of its high energy in-energy out
ratio, large carbon mitigation potential and fast growth. Large-scale
projects to support willow as an energy crop are already at commercial
scale in Sweden. Programs in other countries are being developed
through initiatives such as the
Biomass Project in the US, and
Coppice Project in the UK.
Willow may also be grown to
produce charcoal .
* ENVIRONMENT: As a plant, willow is used for biofiltration ,
constructed wetlands , ecological wastewater treatment systems, hedges
, land reclamation , landscaping , phytoremediation , streambank
stabilisation (bioengineering ), slope stabilisation, soil erosion
control, shelterbelt and windbreak , soil building, soil reclamation,
tree bog compost toilet, and wildlife habitat .
Willow is one of the "
Four Species " used ritually
during the Jewish holiday of
Sukkot . In
Buddhism , a willow branch is
one of the chief attributes of
Kwan Yin , the bodhisattva _ of
compassion. Christian churches in northwestern Europe and Ukraine and
Bulgaria often used willow branches in place of palms in the
Palm Sunday .
In China, some people carry willow branches with them on the day of
their Tomb Sweeping or
Qingming Festival .
Willow branches are also
put up on gates and/or front doors, which they believe help ward off
the evil spirits that wander on Qingming. Legend states that on
Qingming Festival, the ruler of the underworld allows the spirits of
the dead to return to earth. Since their presence may not always be
welcome, willow branches keep them away. In traditional pictures of
the Goddess of Mercy
Guanyin , she is often shown seated on a rock
with a willow branch in a vase of water at her side. The Goddess
employs this mysterious water and the branch for putting demons to
flight. Taoist witches also use a small carving made from willow wood
for communicating with the spirits of the dead. The image is sent to
the nether world, where the disembodied spirit is deemed to enter it,
and give the desired information to surviving relatives on its return.
The willow is a famous subject in many East Asian nations' cultures,
particularly in pen and ink paintings from China and Japan.
A _gisaeng _ (Korean geisha ) named Hongrang, who lived in the middle
Joseon Dynasty , wrote the poem "By the willow in the rain in
the evening", which she gave to her parting lover (Choi Gyeong-chang).
"...I will be the willow on your bedside."
In Japanese tradition, the willow is associated with ghosts. It is
popularly supposed that a ghost will appear where a willow grows.
Willow trees are also quite prevalent in folklore and myths.
In English folklore, a willow tree is believed to be quite sinister,
capable of uprooting itself and stalking travellers. The Viminal Hill,
one of the Seven Hills Of Rome , derives its name from the
for osier, _viminia_ (pl.).
Hans Christian Andersen wrote a story called "Under the
(1853) in which children ask questions of a tree they call
"willow-father", paired with another entity called "elder-mother ".
"Green Willow" is a Japanese ghost story in which a young samurai
falls in love with a woman called Green
Willow who has a close
spiritual connection with a willow tree. "The
Willow Wife" is
another, not dissimilar tale. "Wisdom of the
Willow Tree" is an Osage
Nation story in which a young man seeks answers from a willow tree,
addressing the tree in conversation as 'Grandfather'.
Willow is featured throughout the Harry Potter series,
most notably as a guardian for a backdoor entrance to the Shrieking
Shack. This is especially important in the third and seventh
installments of the series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows respectively.
In Central Europe a "hollow willow" is a common figure of speech,
alluding to a person one can confide secrets in. The metaphor was used
e.g. in the poem _Král Lávra_ (King Lear) by Czech poet Karel
Havlíček Borovský (1854).
List of Salix species
The genus _Salix_ is made up of around 400 species of deciduous
trees and shrubs :
Salix acutifolia _ Willd. – long-leaved violet willow
Salix alaxensis _ (Andersson) Coville
Salix alba _ L. – white willow
Salix amygdaloides _ Andersson – peachleaf willow
Salix arbuscula _ L.
Salix arbusculoides _ – littletree willow
Salix arctica _ Pall. –
Salix arizonica _ Dorn
Salix atrocinerea _ Brot. – grey willow
Salix aurita _ L. – eared willow
Salix babylonica _ L. – Babylon willow, Peking willow or
Salix bakko _
Salix barclayi _ Andersson
Salix barrattiana _ – Barratt's willow
Salix bebbiana _ Sarg. – beaked willow, long-beaked willow, and
Salix bicolor _
Salix bonplandiana _ Kunth – Bonpland willow
Salix boothii _ Dorn – Booth's willow
Salix brachycarpa _ Nutt.
Salix breweri _ Bebb – Brewer's willow
Salix canariensis _ Chr. Sm.
Salix candida _ Flüggé ex Willd. – sageleaf willow
Salix caprea _ L. – goat willow, or pussy willow
Salix caroliniana _ Michx. – coastal plain willow
Salix chaenomeloides _ Kimura
Salix cinerea _ L. – grey willow
Salix cordata _ Michx. – sand dune willow, furry willow, or
Salix delnortensis _ C.K.Schneid. – Del Norte willow
Salix discolor _ Muhl. – American willow
Salix drummondiana _ Barratt ex Hook. – Drummond's willow
Salix eastwoodiae _ Cockerell ex A.Heller – Eastwood's willow,
mountain willow, or Sierra willow
Salix eleagnos _ Scop. - olive willow
Salix eriocarpa _
Salix exigua _ Nutt. – sandbar willow, narrowleaf willow, or
Salix floridana _
Salix fragilis _ L. – crack willow
Salix fuscescens _ - Alaska bog willow
Salix futura _
Salix geyeriana _ Andersson – Geyer's willow
Salix gilgiana _ Seemen
Salix glauca _ L.
Salix glaucosericea _
Salix gooddingii _ C. R. Ball – Goodding's willow, or
Goodding's black willow
Salix gracilistyla _ Miq.
Salix hastata _ L.
Salix herbacea _ L. – dwarf willow, least willow or snowbed
Salix hookeriana _ Barratt ex Hook. – dune willow, coastal
willow, or Hooker's willow
Salix hultenii _
Salix humboldtiana _ Willd.
Salix integra _ Thunb.
Salix interior _
Salix japonica _ Thunb.
Salix jepsonii _ C.K.Schneid. – Jepson's willow
Salix jessoensis _ Seemen
Salix koriyanagi _ Kimura ex Goerz
Salix kusanoi _
Salix laevigata _ Bebb – red willow or polished willow
Salix lanata _ L. – woolly willow
Salix lapponum _ L. - downy willow
Salix lasiolepis _ Benth. – arroyo willow
Salix lemmonii _ Bebb – Lemmon's willow
Salix libani _ – Lebanese willow
Salix ligulifolia _ C.R.Ball – strapleaf willow
Salix lucida _ Muhl. – shining willow, Pacific willow, or
Salix lutea _ Nutt. – yellow willow
Salix magnifica _ Hemsl.
Salix matsudana _ Koidz. – Chinese willow or twisted willow,
Salix melanopsis _ Nutt. – dusky willow
Salix miyabeana _ Seemen
Salix monticola _
Salix mucronata _ - Cape silver willow
* _Salix microphylla _ Schltdl. & Cham.
Salix myrsinifolia _ Salisb.
Salix myrtillifolia _
Salix myrtilloides _ L. – swamp willow
Salix nakamurana _
Salix nigra _ Marshall – black willow
Salix orestera _ C.K.Schneid. – Sierra willow or gray-leafed
* _Salix paradoxa _ Kunth
Salix pentandra _ L. – bay willow
Salix phylicifolia _ L.
* _Salix pierotii _ – Korean willow
Salix planifolia _ Pursh. – diamondleaf willow or tea-leafed
Salix polaris _ Wahlenb. – polar willow
Salix prolixa _ Andersson – MacKenzie's willow
Salix pulchra _
Salix purpurea _ L. – purple willow or purple osier
Salix reinii _
Salix reticulata _ L. – net-veined willow
Salix retusa _
Salix richardsonii _
Salix rorida _ Lacksch.
Salix rupifraga _
Salix schwerinii _ E. L. Wolf
Salix scouleriana _ Barratt ex Hook. – Scouler's willow
* _Salix sepulcralis_ group – hybrid willows
Salix sericea _ Marshall – silky willow
Salix serissaefolia _
Salix serissima _ (L. H. Bailey) Fernald — autumn willow or
Salix serpyllifolia _
Salix sessilifolia _ Nutt. – northwest sandbar willow
Salix shiraii _
Salix sieboldiana _
Salix sitchensis _ C. A. Sanson ex Bong. – Sitka willow
Salix subfragilis _
Salix subopposita _ Miq.
Salix taraikensis _
Salix tarraconensis _
Salix taxifolia _ Kunth – yew-leaf willow
Salix tetrasperma _ Roxb. – Indian willow
Salix triandra _ L. – almond willow or almond-leaved willow
Salix udensis _ Trautv. border:solid #aaa 1px">
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Wikispecies has information related to: SALIX _
* _Aravah _, the Hebrew name of the willow, for its ritual use
during the Jewish
Feast of Tabernacles ;
* List of
Lepidoptera that feed on willows
Rhabdophaga rosaria _, a willow gall;
Biomass Project ;
Willow water , using the biological rooting hormones indolebutyric
acid and salicylic acid from willow branches to stimulate root growth
in new cuttings;
* Sail ogham letter meaning willow.
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