Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tuesday's Trees - Willow

Many of you know Willows, there's Weeping Willow, Corkscrew Willow, Pussy Willow, and some gorgeous Willow shrubs with variegated foliage.   I found there are also Black Willows and White Willow.  Black Willow, Salix nigra, is a native tree, White Willow, Salix alba, are not native.  Since we live in an rather untamed area, I believe what I have growing in the ditches and along the stream beds is S. nigra.  After doing a lot of research, checking on the trees, rereading the information, I am not 100% sure.   

 The leaves on the willow are long and narrow.  The margins are serrated.  I was surprised to read that they were serrated, then I cropped and blew up the photo, sure enough...they are serrated.   They are arranged alternately along the stem.   The White Willow has thick white down on the underside of the leaves, giving them a silvery white look.  The Black Willow is light green in color on the underside of the leaf.  Ok, so far the thought is I have a Black Willow.   According to Vanderbilt, Black Willow twigs have stipules along the twigs. Stipules are side growths or leaf scars along the stem.  Name That Plant has a great group of photos showing different examples.   I don't see the little stipules on the branch....could it be a White Willow?  Oh I am getting confused again.  But, there is no thick white down on the underside of the leaf, so I am leaning toward the Black Willow.   My husband wondered if the stipules are more pronounced on mature trees?  These photos are from a young tree growing along our side yard.  Hmmm, maybe?
Camera in hand I went for a walk with the dogs and found a willow along the side of road in a rather wild area.  I couldn't get too close to the tree, but zooming in and cropping to enlarge, I still see no stipules.

The bark is grey to dark brown, with deep ridges.   As you can see the fall color is a dirty yellow.  We are in the beginnings of our fall color changes.  

Black Willow is the only commercially important harvested willow lumber.  It is lightweight and straight grained, takes stain well, and shock resistant.   It does not splinter easily and at one time it was used for artificial limbs.   

Ancient  uses of the willow bark include bark and leaves in the relief of rheumatism.  A chemical component in the bark is the natural glucoside, salicin, which is the building block to our present day aspirin.  Amazing isn't it?  To make gunpowder Black Willow's charcoal was once used.

It is a fast growing tree that can reach its maturity in as little as 30 years.  A mature tree is on average about 60- 70 feet tall, though it can reach heights of 135 feet in great growing conditions.  The shallow roots are laterally extensive.  Pay note to where septic and sewer lines run. 

It is a spring flowering tree, dioecious, two households, male flowering trees and female flowering trees.  The white cottony puffs help spread the seeds once they have ripened and are ready to germinate.  

The last few photos are of a Weeping Willow, Salix babylonica, another non-native, along the shoreline of the Hudson River.  The S. babylonica is a native of China.

 I was happy to gather some nice pictures of the cottony seeds and the deeply furrowed bark on a mature tree.  You can see cotton tuffs all over the ground on the above photo.  Here is a nice close up.


Thanks for coming along on another quest for a tree ID.  It is not as easy as these keys or keyB make it seem.
References-- VATech dendrology, Forestry Service, and the Vanderbilt site listed above.

©Copyright 2012 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

28 comments:

  1. Keying trees is always quite annoying to me. They can be so variable. I think you'd be safe to say it is a willow! That how I get sometimes with my oaks here. At one time I tried to figure them all out but surmised I simply have a bunch of southern red oaks. Sigh. I did not know weeping willow is nonnative. It is a tree I never use in designs or my own garden because it is so messy and weak with losing twigs but my aren't they pretty in the fall especially by a pond or lake like yours?

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    1. Tina, I know what you mean oak do a lot of cross-pollinating. I was surprised about the weeping willow, I thought it was a native.

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  2. I used to have Salix melanostachys, which had purplish-black stems and got to be 8 or so feet tall. Doubt that I would buy it again, but it was a pretty willow. I think there is something very poetic about weeping willows along lake shores. Too bad they're often planted near houses, and can destroy water lines and cause other problems. We all live and learn, I guess!

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    1. DJ, I like many of the willows, yes, there is something poetic about a weeping willow.

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  3. I was just thinking about the weeping willow tree we had in my childhood backyard--and was planning to write a post about it! I was devastated when my parents had the tree removed because it was damaging the sewer line. I think I was about 8 or 9, and I cried for hours--I used to hide under the tree with a pile of books and spend hours reading. We're on our second attempt to grow a weeping willow in our yard, but it's not going well. I think we just don't have enough sun. Great information, as always--love the photo of the puff of seeds!

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    1. Julie, amazing how much of a memory trees can stimulate. Sorry the weeping willow of your childhood was removed.

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  4. Ah man, trees confuse me. I'll just enjoy the shade and beauty they provide!

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  5. Interesting! The only willow I can truly identify is the weeping willow. I love to see them with their branches hanging so low.

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    1. Carolyn, I was surprised to see the S. alba here in our area. I really didn't know many other willows besides the weeping willow and curly willow.

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  6. My dad has a weeping willow and he curses it like no other tree! He does not have those pesky sweet gums like me. LOL. Even though the willow is a beautiful tree on his land, it makes a big mess with the smallest of wind blows. He admits it is a beautiful tree when no mess is around. And who does not love a weeping willow hanging over the waters edge…

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    1. Skeeter, think weeping willows instill a love hate relationship. I love them along the water.

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  7. I love weeping willows but would never plant one. Our neighbor has a magnificent specimen across the street, and there are some equally impressive growing along ponds in parks around here.

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  8. Janet, I understand just how hard your search was to ID your willow as I just spent a couple days trying to do the same. As you know I inadvertently planted a willow and I figured before moving it I would try and identify it. Goodness there's a lot of different kinds. Worse still I read that they hybridize amongst themselves so in some cases there is no way to positively identify them.

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    1. Marguerite, yes I read your post. Hybridizing makes many identifications so hard.

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  9. I cannot think of a tree more maligned by people. Sad too because it is so elegant in the landscape if left to its own devices and has the room to grow. It is the most requested tree for removal by clients due to how messy the tree is on their properties. The farm where my friend has his nursery is on Willow Road. I bet you can guess how it got its name!

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    1. Donna, true, poorly planted and gets blamed! I bet the farm on Willow Road has some amazing mature willows.

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  10. I love a beautiful weeping willow. They break easy here tho? (which I think you said it didn't splinter?) It's one of the first trees to leaf out in spring which automatically moves it to the top of my list. We planted one at our first house because of the fast growth rate but left before it reached any substantial height. :(

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    1. Kathleen, I like weeping willows, though the people that plant them in stupid places is crazy. I said the Black Willow doesn't splinter. Moving makes it hard to know what your newly planted trees will become. We planted three ash in our new house in TX. Charlie was at Ft. Hood and drove by the old house....he said the trees were huge!

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  11. I've always thought weeping willows are so beautiful. Unfortunately, when they're planted in the wrong place, they can cause problems, as you warned about the septic systems. When we first moved to this house, I kept trying to identify a tree, which I finally realized was a pussy willow--I had no idea they could actually grow to tree-size. Thanks for another interesting piece, Janet!

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    1. Rose, you are right, planted in the wrong place. A pussy willow! Too funny.

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  12. I love willows and we have many native large ones in our area...they are dangerous when planted too close to a house as they are shallow rooted and tend to go down in storms...I have ornamental pussy willow trees that do not get large and weep...

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    1. Donna@GEV, yes, they are shallow rooted, what a shame they were planted too close to the house. I love pussy willows in the spring.

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  13. Since developing an interest in trees, we have purchased several books, but none are as helpful as your posts.

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    1. Ricki, I am so glad to hear this, made me smile all day. thanks. Hope you are looking at the other tree posts -- check the tab at the top of the page.

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  14. Willows are such beautiful trees. There is a wetland park near where we used to live, which has lots of pollarded willows, making dramatic silhouettes at this time of year with all the different bark colours. I don't envy you trying to identify which kind you have growing near you!

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  15. I have no idea how you managed to capture the beauty and gleamingness of the sea in the bottom photo. Its lovely. Just lovely.

    -Tony Salmeron

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