The willows are deciduous trees and shrubs in the genus Salix, part of the willow family Salicaceae. There are about 350 species in this genus worldwide, found primarily on moist soils in cooler zones in the Northern Hemisphere.
The leaves are deciduous, often elongate but round to oval in a few species, and with a serrated margin. Willows are dioecious with male and female flowers appearing as catkins on different plants; the catkins are produced early in the spring, often before the leaves or as the new leaves open. The fruit is a small capsule containing numerous tiny (0.1 mm) seeds embedded in white down, which assists wind dispersal of the seeds.
Willows are very cross-fertile and numerous hybrids are known, both naturally occurring and in cultivation. Some smaller species may also be known by the common names osier and sallow; the latter name is derived from the same root as the Latin salix. Some willows, particularly arctic and alpine species, are very small; the Dwarf Willow (Salix herbacea) rarely exceeds 6 cm in height, though spreading widely across the ground.
The Weeping Willow, very widely planted as an ornamental tree, is a cultivar, Salix × sepulcralis 'Chrysocoma', derived from a hybrid between the Chinese Peking Willow and the European White Willow. Almost all willows take root very readily from cuttings or where broken branches lie on the ground. There are a few exceptions, including the Goat Willow and Peachleaf Willow. One famous example of such growth from cuttings involves the poet Alexander Pope, who begged a twig from a parcel tied with twigs sent from Spain to Lady Suffolk. This twig was planted and thrived, and legend has it that all of England's Weeping Willows are descended from this first one.
Trunk-scope: from 8 - 12 cm
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