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white willow - salix alba - inflorescence

Willow, white, Salix alba L.

If I had to choose one tree to put in my garden, it would be the white willow, Salix alba. It may not be as majestic as some other trees, but with all its uses, it definitely is a great tree to have on your side.
Willows can be found everywhere, even in wetlands where other trees do not thrive. That is why I have known them since my early childhood. The swampy soil along the rivers of my childhood was covered in willows.

The medicinal properties of willow, Salix alba, in a nutshell

When you delve into the medicinal properties of willow tree, you will find that the majority of people uses willow-based medicine at some point. Thanks to willow, we have aspirin. Willow bark contains salicin, which is converted into salicylic acid in our body. Because willow bark contains more constituents and not just the isolated active ingredient, like aspirin does, it usually comes with fewer side effects. So, willow has a powerful analgesic effect, but it can do more. It works in conditions involving the urinary tract, for instance.

The magical properties of willow in a nutshell

In magic, willow has traditionally been used for protection and healing. You can use willow to make a magic broom. In addition, she is a good ally during divination sessions. Willow has a strong association with the moon, with water and, logically, with feelings. It can rightly be called a magical tree.

Botanical description Willow, Salix alba L.

Willow is a large tree that sometimes appears as a shrub. It is taproot-forming, with a wide-growing central root system at a later age. The bark is rough and grey-brown and often becomes deeply grooved when it gets older. The branches are ascending from the trunk and remain flexible for a long time.
The young branches, which are orange-brown in colour, are extremely flexible and therefore suitable for processing in, for example, woven baskets. That is where the nickname whip tree comes from.
The leaves are oblong, up to four times as long as they are wide and green on top and silver-grey at the bottom. The underside is covered in downy hairs.
The inflorescences differ between male and female plants, not so much in shape, but mainly in colour. Both start as grey, sericeous catkins and develop into cylindrical panicles, the male yellow and the female green in colour. After flowering, the valvate capsules develop, from which black seeds with a pappus emerge.

Interesting facts

Not only white willow has the medicinal properties discussed in this monograph. Some other willow species are even more powerful. However, I have chosen to discuss this variety because it can be found just about anywhere.
It is striking that, while the trunk of a willow can be in an advanced state of decomposition, a hard core often still emerges from the original taproot and thus ensures that the tree continues to live.
Dowsing for water was and still is, done with a forked willow branch.

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Willow, white, Salix alba L. image