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of Michael Dodge

Salix viminalis

(viminalis = of or belonging to osiers)

This European and Asian species is one of the most vigorous and useful Willows. It grows quickly to 20 ft (6m) tall and just as wide. The stems are very flexible which is why they are used so extensively in basketry and structures. The catkins apppear in April in Northern North America and the 1.5in male catkins are brilliant yellow and are as showy as Forsythia that blooms at the same time. The female catkins open a few days later and are not showy. It was brought to North America by settlers for it's usefulness in basketry and has established itself in the Northeast, especially near the ocean in the Canadian Maritimes.

Viminalis has one problem in that is is very susceptable to damage from boring insects that eat out the growing point and stunt the growth. This does not happen near the ocean; probably because the insects don't like the salt-laden moist air.

The young branches are yellowish brown and turn gray-brown as they age. The long leaves are linear to narrowly oblong, and are variously woolly, tomentose or short silky. The leaves appear after the catkins.

Viminalis has cross-pollinated with an array of other species and have produced many very notable offspring.