Basket Willow - Salix viminalis - Zone 3
Basket Willow is a vigorous and fast growing deciduous shrub/small tree native to many parts of Europe and Asia. It was introduced in North America by early settlers because it is the best willow for basket making, and is now naturalized in many areas. More recently it has become better known for the living sculptures that can be made with it.
Basket Willows are exceptionally fast growing trees, about 1 metre per year, and don’t require much, or any attention to thrive. The individual stems have relatively short life spans, around 50 -70 years but their tendency to shoot new stems from the roots, particularly when coppiced, and even shoot from branches that fall to the ground, allows the plant to persist indefinitely. They can grow to heights of 3-6 metres, spreads of 2.5 metres and grow best in full sun, being relatively intolerant of shade. The plant is highly tolerant of all soil conditions but thrives on wet soils and is often found lining the banks of water sources. These trees have shallow but extremely extensive root systems, often extending out up to four times the size of the crown. The bark is yellow/green turning to a pale brown. Leaves are long and narrow, glossy green on top and silvery with a hairy texture underneath. One of the first trees to flower, with catkins appearing in early April before the leaves. They are a favourite of insects, particularly bees and butterflies for whom they are an important early source of nectar and pollen after the long winter.
Basket Willows are notoriously beautiful but also extremely functional. Their shallow and spreading roots are used for erosion control along river banks. Their flexibility and rapid growth make for an excellent material to weave into any form one might desire: living fencing, chairs, windbreaks, gazebos, picnic tables. Truly the only limit is the imagination. Recently, living willow sculptures have become very popular and it is amazing what some people can do with this tree. Basket Willows are also used to reclaim disused industrial or mining sites due to their ability to absorb heavy metal contamination. This is not its only environmental use as it is also employed to create small scale water treatments systems and is the best and most commonly used plant in the production of biofuel. The leaves and inner bark are edible but not particularly palatable. The bark can be made into rope and has long been used in Chinese medicine for its anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties and contains salicin which is metabolized into salicylic acid, the active ingredient in Aspirin.
Our basket willows are available in either yellow or red color. Please specify your preference in the comment box at check out if you have any.
|Height at maturity||6 metres (20 feet)|
|Spacing||2.5 metres (8 feet)|
|Sun / shade||Full sun|
|Average fruit weight||n/a|
|Years to bear fruit||n/a|
|Pollination||Dioecious (separate male and female plants)|
|Latin name||Salix viminalis|
|Average diameter of fruit||n/a|
|Also known as||Common Osier|