(25) THE WILLOW
The WILLOW (Salix, L.) is an extensive genus, found in Europe, Asia, and North America, including all the shrubby osier species used for basket-work, as well as a few trees.
The arborescent willows are most useful trees, and well merit the attention of planters. They are invaluable for fixing the banks of rivers and canals, and are successfully used for that purpose.
As coppice-woods with short rotation, they are grown in osier beds, and cut annually fore basket-work, or when three or four years old, for hoops, &c., and in this way they yield a good return. The laying down and treatment of osier beds may be seen in great perfection on the banks of the Thames.
The wood is used for carving and other purposes. In North America, fishing nets and lines are made of the inner bark.
All the species are easily propagated by cuttings, and require to be grown in damp soil.
There are three species attaining the size of trees:-- S. alba, the white or Huntingdon willow, reaches a larger size in twenty or thirty years than any other British tree except Populus alba, and often yields 1 foot of solid timber for every year of growth.
S. caprea, the goat willow or sallow, occurs generally as a large shrub but attains 40 or 50 feet in height. It forms a good protection in maritime situations, but often by its exuberant growth injures more valuable trees.
The third tree is S. fragilis, the crack willow, and its sub-species S. Russelliana, the Bedford willow.
Another tree willow, S. babylonica, or weeping willow, a native of Russia and China, is very ornamental on islands and river banks.
The larvae of several nocturnal Lepidoptera feed upon the leaves of the willows, and the trunk of the sallow is often injured by the perforations of the Trochilium crabroniforme (Lunar Hornet Sphinx).
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