Willow Tree Identification
There are different kinds of weeping willows. There are two main varieties: white and black. White willows have three leaflets; black willows have four leaflets. Black willow trees grow well in full sun or shade, but they prefer moist soil with good drainage. They need plenty of light so their leaves don’t turn brown too quickly when the air gets hot and dry during summer months.
White willows are very drought tolerant and thrive in sandy soils. They prefer rich loamy soil with lots of organic matter like manure, composted wood chips, leaf mold and other organic materials. They do best if the soil is not soggy from rainwater runoff. They tolerate some wind erosion, but they prefer to live where there is adequate cover over them.
Black willows are native to North America and were introduced into Europe. They’re most commonly found in the eastern United States, especially New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Black willows can survive cold winters and thrive in cool climates, but they’re not as frost resistant as white willows.
White willows are native to Europe and western Asia. All of them have oval-shaped leaves that gently droop as the tree matures. The twigs are reddish brown and hairless. They’re not as wimpy as black willows in harsh weather, but they’re still vulnerable to frost damage. They’re very popular for ornamental planting, because they provide privacy and look nice when they flower in the spring.
Willow Trees and the Landscape
Willow trees are eye-catching, both when they’re in bloom and when their branches are swaying in the wind. If you have a large yard or an open space near your home, then consider planting a willow tree. It will provide much-needed shade during summer months, and it will also look beautiful.
It’s important to plant the right kind of willow for your environment. For example, if you live in the desert, then planting a black willow isn’t going to do you much good. They need rich soil and adequate water when they’re planted.
The most obvious benefit of planting a willow tree is that it provides shade for your family and your pets. If you live in a warm climate, then you probably already know how important this can be. The dense foliage of a mature willow tree can provide as much shade as many other types of trees.
They also provide food and shelter for birds and small mammals. They’re also a good nesting spot for birds who like to build their nests in high places.
Willows are usually pollution-tolerant and can thrive in a variety of soil types as long as the soil is not waterlogged or water-starved.
They also have medicinal properties. According to studies, willow bark has been proven to combat inflammation and pain.
Willows are susceptible to many pests and diseases. They’re prone to attack by fungi, bacteria and insects, even though they have a lot of natural defenses that protect them from these things.
Willows also have a high water requirement. They have large, extensive root systems and do not grow well in dry areas.
They also tend to get a lot of leaf litter that drops to the ground. This can make them more susceptible to disease and fungus, so you may need to spend a lot of time raking up leaves from under the trees.
Willow trees can become very large and take up a lot of room. If you live in an area where land is at a premium, then you might not have enough space to plant one.
Willow trees also have very shallow root systems and can be easily toppled over. This can lead to a lot of maintenance when it comes to pruning or removing them.
Sometimes, the roots can even take root elsewhere and start to grow into another tree. This can lead to strange-looking hybrid trees if you’re not careful.
If you’re going to plant a tree that can get large, then you need to make sure you have the room for it!
Black willows have been known to be susceptible to black willow disease, which is spread by parasitic fungi. This fungus attacks the vascular tissue and can cause dieback of the branches. It’s highly contagious and can spread very rapidly, so it’s important that if you have a black willow tree that you keep it well away from other trees.
Willow Tree or Willow Herb?
Some of you may look at these plants and wonder, “Aren’t these herbs?”
No, they’re not! These are two different plants. The herb is commonly known as “ephedra” and contains chemicals that have been known to raise blood pressure and act as a decongestant. The herb has been banned in certain commercial quantities due to being linked to various health concerns and ephedra extract is no longer used in certain dietary supplements.
Herbalists use the herb for medicinal reasons, but it can be addictive and dangerous to certain individuals.
Sources & references used in this article:
Water loss estimates for five recently transplanted landscape tree species in a semi-arid climate by T Montague, R Kjelgren, R Allen… – Journal of …, 2004 – meridian.allenpress.com
Growing fuel: a sustainability assessment of willow biomass crops by TA Volk, T Verwijst, PJ Tharakan… – Frontiers in Ecology …, 2004 – Wiley Online Library
Decline in the diversity of willow trunk-dwelling weevils (Coleoptera: Curculionoidea) as a result of urban expansion in Beijing, China by Z Su, R Zhang, J Qiu – Journal of Insect Conservation, 2011 – Springer
Willows Beyond Wetlands: Uses of Salix L. Species for Environmental Projects by YA Kuzovkina, MF Quigley – Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, 2005 – Springer
Lead uptake and translocation by willows in pot and field experiments by OP Zhivotovsky, YA Kuzovkina… – International Journal …, 2011 – Taylor & Francis
Winter browsing of moose on two different willow species: food selection in relation to plant chemistry and plant response by C Stolter, JP Ball, R Julkunen-Tiitto… – … Journal of Zoology, 2005 – NRC Research Press