SALIX or WILLOW

T. or FLOWERING SHRUB. To most people, the willow is the weeping willow often seen by the waterside as along the ‘Backs’ at Cambridge, or the banks of the upper Thames. There are, however, many other species, including some which may be termed creeping alpines and will flourish in dry soils, unlike the weeping willow. Salix pentandra (laurifolia), the bay-leaved willow, will eventually grow to about 20 ft. The lustrous, rich green leaves are aromatic when crushed. It is a native British species and has been found wild in Northumberland as high as 1,300 ft. The male form has bright yellow catkins. S. alba, the Huntingdon or white willow is a pyramidal tree to about 60 ft. The cricket-bat willow, with greyish foliage, is iS’. caerulea, a fast grower which ultimately reaches 80 ft. or more. The weeping willow goes under a variety of names, Salix babylonica or S. chrysocoma being the most usual. It grows to about 30 ft. with large, lance-shaped leaves which are dark green above and grey-blue beneath. The arching branches terminate in perpendicular branchlets which increase in length as the tree ages. They turn a warm yellow in winter.

This species is a native of China but was given the name babylonica because at one time it was considered to originate in the vicinity of the Euphrates and to be the willow mentioned in the Psalms. Willows are very easily increased by leafless cuttings in late autumn or early winter. The length is immaterial, but about 9 in. is usual.

Salix repens is the native creeping willow with narrow leaves covered with silky hairs. The male catkins are a silvery colour. In the Scottish Highlands this species is found as high as 2,500 ft. S. caesia reaches about 21/2 ft. The smooth brown stems are grey-green above and blue-white below. The catkins are yellow with violet anthers.

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