White Willow

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White Willow
Conservation status: Secure
Missing image
Salix_alba(01).jpg



White Willow
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
Division:Magnoliophyta
Class:Magnoliopsida
Order:Malpighiales
Family:Salicaceae
Genus:Salix
Species:S. alba

Template:Taxobox section binomial botany

The White Willow is a willow native to Europe, and western and central Asia. It is a large deciduous tree up to 20-30 m tall. The name derives from the leaves, which are paler than most other willows, due to a covering of very fine silky white hairs. The leaves are typically 5-10 cm long and 1-1.5 cm wide. The shoots in the typical variety (var. alba) are brown to green-brown. The flowers are catkins, produced in early spring.

A number of cultivars and hybrids of White Willow have been selected for forestry and horticulture use:

  • The Cricket-bat Willow (Salix alba 'Caerulea') is grown as a specialist timber crop in Britain, mainly for the production of cricket bats, but also for other uses where a tough, lightweight wood that does not splinter easily, is required. It is distinguished mainly by its growth form, very fast growing with a single straight stem, and also by its slightly larger leaves (10-11 cm long, 1.5-2 cm wide) with a more blue-green colour. Its origin is unknown, but it may be a hybrid between White Willow and Crack Willow (Salix fragilis).
  • The Weeping Willow (Salix 'Tristis') is a hybrid between White Willow and Peking Willow (Salix babylonica, syn. Salix matsudana).
  • The Golden Willow (Salix alba 'Vitellina') is a cultivar grown in gardens for its shoots, which are golden yellow for 1-2 years before turning brown. It is particularly decorative in winter; the best effect is achieved by coppicing it every 2-3 years to stimulate the production of longer young shoots with better colour. Two other similar cultivars, 'Britzensis' and 'Cardinal', have orange-red shoots.

White Willows are fast-growing, but short-lived, being susceptible to several diseases, including watermark disease caused by the bacterium Erwinia salicis (named because of the characteristic 'watermark' staining in the wood) and willow anthracnose, caused by the fungus Marssonina salicicola. These diseases can be a serious problem on trees grown for timber or ornament.

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Illustration_Salix_alba0.jpg
White Willow illustration
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Salix_alba(02).jpg
catkins

Template:Commonsda:Hvid-Pil (Salix alba) de:Silberweide nl:Schietwilg sv:Vitpil

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