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Willow

(Salix spp.)

Other Names:

Willow, weeping willow, pussy willow, black willow, swamp willow. There are over 400 species of willow in the world. Many species native to Europe and Asia have been transplanted as ornamentals throughout the world. As they escaped cultivation, they have become naturalized to these countries as well. Salix alba, or White Willow is one of these naturalized trees. It was originally native to Europe and Western and Central Asia.

Range:

Family:

Salicaceae Willow family

Identifying characteristics:

Growth Type:

Deciduous woody tree or shrub. Willows vary greatly, but do have some relatively common characteristics.

Height:

Up to 150 ft tall. Many species are classified as shrubs and are much shorter

Leaves:

They tend to have elongated lance shaped leaves, although some species have more rounded leaves. The leaves tend to be pale to bright green with a lighter colored underside.

Stem/Trunk:

The bark of twigs and branches tend to be yellowish to brownish. The bark of the trunk and larger branches tends to be gray in color with that of older trees becoming deeply furrowed.

Root:

The roots of all species are extremely flexible and strong.

Flower:

Season:

N/A

Appearance:

N/A

Seed/Fruit:

N/A

Miscellaneous characteristics:

The most common willows in North America are the Weeping willow Salix babylonica, White willow Salix alba, Black or Pussy willow Salix nigra, and Carolina willow Salix caroliniana.

Habitat:

Moist soils of swamps, dense woods, stream banks, or yards.

Parts Used:

Inner bark of trunk, root, or twigs.

Uses:

Wild Food Uses:

None Known

The following text is meant for informational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or injury. Always consult with a physician or other qualified medical care provider concerning the diagnosis and treatment of any illness or injury.

Medicinal Uses:

Salix spp., contain high levels of methyl salicylate, the forerunner of modern aspirin. A pain relieving tea can be brewed from the inner bark of the willow. I personally like the convenience of tinctures. I keep willow tincture on hand at all times. The only caveat I would offer about Salix species, is that the Salicylate levels can vary greatly from species to species, as well as from plant to plant within the same species. For constant levels of salicylates I tend to stick with Gaultheria procumbens, or Spiraea spp.

Medicinal Actions:

Analgesic, Antiarthritic, Anti-Inflammatory, Febrifuge, Stomachic

Salix growing on waters edge in Prudenville MI

Salix growing on waters edge in Prudenville MI

Weeping Willow Salix babylonica

Black Willow (Pussy Willow) - Salix nigra

White Willow - Salix alba

Close up of White willow - Salix alba

Carolina Willow - Salix caroliniana

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Revised: 05/11/16 Living Afield