Salix are renowned for their beautiful forms, from graceful weeping willow trees to striking twisted willows. They 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, so no matter what size garden you have there is a perfectly proportioned Willow tree for it.
Willow trees are wonderfully architectural and vary greatly in size, from large weeping trees to small colourful or twisted stem trees. The pretty catkins that adorn the branches in spring are the flowers of this species and 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.
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 Latin name Salix is derived from the Celtic 'sal' meaning near and 'lis' meaning water as they are often found near water. There are many common names for the Salix tree, including: 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 tree is crying
Perhaps due to their mystical beauty, Salix trees have taken on a variety of symbols in many cultures. In Japan, Willow trees are a sign of ghosts and in Greek culture they symbolise death, yet ironically this species represents eternal life and overcoming adversity to other cultures, due to its ability to thrive where other species couldn't. In Celtic faith, they have connections with the moon and in English folklore they are sinister with stories of willow trees uprooting themselves and stalking travellers. According to other mythology, Weeping Willow trees are associated with femininity, 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. Unlike other woods, Willow is highly pliable and can be woven into wicker baskets, fish traps and fences. Willow fishing nets 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 and catkins can be cooked and mashed as a food source for survival purposes.