Crack Willow - Salix fragilis - Zone 3
Crack Willow is a medium/large deciduous tree that thrives in wet, poor soils. Fast and vigorous growers, they make great ornamental shade trees.
Crack Willow originated in Europe from the hybridization of an introduced species and the native European white willow. It was brought over to North America by colonists who valued it for its use in basket making and went on to naturalize across a wide range throughout much of the northern United States and southern Canada. They occur naturally along waterways and riverbanks in moist and poorly drained soils. These fast growing trees can reach heights up to 25 metres and spreads of not much less. Trunks can become 1 metre in diameter and the trees develop very thick and extensive root systems. The growth pattern is somewhat bushy and trees will often develop multi-trunked forms if not otherwise trained. The bark is greenish brown, becoming rough and heavily fissured with age. The leaves are long and narrow, lanceolate in shape, dark green on top and pale on the underside. They turn yellow in the fall. These trees do well across a wide variety of soil conditions, not requiring a rich soil and being able to grow in even heavily waterlogged areas but will suffer greatly in very dry conditions. They will do best in full sun but can handle partial shade.
Crack willows are attractive trees that can form thick and shady canopies. They are very nice for ornamental use. Their extensive roots that hold the soil together and preference for moist locales make them a great choice for erosion control. Traditionally they were valued for use in basket-making though more recently there is also growing interest in the use of fast-growing willows for the production of biofuel. The bark contains salicin, which is the precursor of salicylic acid, the active ingredient in aspirin. It has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.
|Height at maturity||20 metres (65 feet)|
|Spacing||10 metres (32 feet)|
|Sun / shade||Full sun / Partial shade|
|Average fruit weight||n/a|
|Years to bear fruit||n/a|
|Latin name||Salix fragilis|
|Average diameter of fruit||n/a|
|Also known as||Brittle Willow|