Salix are renowned for their beautiful forms, from graceful weeping willow trees to striking twisted willows. Salix trees are also popular for their fluffy catkins and variety of bark colours, including red, yellow and green. We offer compact dwarf Willows to statuesque tall Willows and everything in between, so no matter what size garden you have there is a perfectly proportioned Willow tree.
Often found near water, Willow trees benefit from coping well in damp or wet sites so are an excellent choice for these tricky situations. In fact, the roots of Willow trees can even help prevent erosion at the side of rivers. Some varieties will also tolerate drought.
The pretty catkins that adorn the trees in spring are the flowers of this species. These catkins are important for producing an early source of nectar and pollen for bees and insects. Birds particularly like willow trees as a place to forage for insects to eat.
There are many common names for the Salix tree, including: willow, pussy willow, goat willow, dwarf willow and weeping willow. The most common name, weeping willow, comes from the rain water dripping from the hanging branches and making it look as if the willow tree is crying. The Latin name Salix is derived from the Celtic 'sal' meaning near and 'lis' meaning water as they are often found near water. In Celtic faith, it is believed that because the Weeping Willow is so closely associated with water, it has connections with the moon: the Celts also believe that its wood increases psychic abilities.
Perhaps due to their magnificent and mystical beauty, Salix have taken on a variety of symbols in many cultures. In Japan, Willow trees are a sign of ghosts and it is believed that wherever Willow trees grow, ghosts will appear. They also symbolise death in Greek culture, yet ironically this species represents eternal life and overcoming adversity to other cultures, due to its ability to thrive in conditions where other species wouldn't. In English folklore they are thought of as sinister with stories telling of willow trees uprooting themselves and stalking travellers. According to other mythology, Weeping Willow trees are associated with all that is feminine, as well as fertility and sexuality.
Willow trees have been used for medicinal purposes. Ancient Egyptians used the leaves and bark to treat fevers and aches and Hippocrates wrote about the medicinal properties of Willow in 5th century BC, advising people to chew on it to reduce fever and inflammation. In fact the salicylic acid present in it is one of the main compounds found in modern-day Aspirin.
Willow trees are exceptionally useful trees. Unlike other woods, willow is highly pliable so it is less likely to split when bent and can be woven into wicker to make baskets, fish traps and fences. Fishing nets made from willow branches have been found to date back to 8300 BC. Paper, rope and string can also be produced from the wood, whilst Willow bark can be used to make tea which works as an anti-oxidant. As if all this wasn't enough, the catkins can be cooked and mashed as a food source for survival purposes.