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Common Name: Feltleaf Wiillow
Salix alaxensis is a deciduous tree that can grow up to 10.00 metres tall.
It has edible, medicinal and miscellaneous uses.
North-western N. America - Alaska to British Columbia, east to Hudson Bay.
Moist tundra and gravels[
]. Prefers rocky soils along the sides of rivers and lakes[
]. Grows up to and beyond the tree-line, when it becomes a small recumbent low-spreading shrub[
We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain, though judging by its native range it should succeed outdoors in most parts of this country. It is an aggregate species[
] and ranges in habit from a small tree right down to a dwarf shrub growing along the ground in exposed sites[
]. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus.
Succeeds in most soils, including wet, ill-drained or intermittently flooded soils[
], but prefers a damp, heavy soil in a sunny position[
]. Rarely thrives on chalk[
Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus[
]. Although the flowers are produced in catkins early in the year, they are pollinated by bees and other insects rather than by the wind[
Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus[
A dioecious species - both male and female forms must be grown if fruit and seed are required.
Inner bark - raw or cooked. A sweet flavour[
], it has been eaten as a winter titbit[
]. The taste is somewhat like watermelon or cucumber[
]. The bark has been used as a survival food[
]. It can be dried, ground into a powder and used as a thickening in soups or can be added to cereal flour for use in making bread etc.
Young tender leaves and shoots - raw or cooked[
]. The shoots are peeled and eaten in spring[
]. A source of vitamin C[
The flowers have been sucked by children for the sweet nectar[
The fresh bark of all members of this genus contains salicin[
], which probably decomposes into salicylic acid (closely related to aspirin) in the human body[
]. This is used as an anodyne and febrifuge[
In northern parts of this plant's range, its wood is often the sole source of firewood[
Seed - must be surface sown as soon as it is ripe in late spring. It has a very short viability, perhaps as little as a few days.
Cuttings of mature wood of the current year's growth, late autumn to late winter in a sheltered outdoor bed or planted straight into their permanent position and given a good weed-suppressing mulch. Very easy. Plant into their permanent positions in the autumn.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, early summer to August in a frame. Very easy.