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Common Name: Woolly Willow
Salix lanata is a deciduous shrub that can grow up to 1.50 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.
Arctic and sub-arctic Europe and Asia, including Britain.
Damp ledges of basic rocks on mountains, 550 - 1000 metres[
]. A very rare plant in Britain, found only in Scotland[
Succeeds in most soils, including wet, ill-drained or intermittently flooded soils[
], but prefers a damp, heavy soil in a cool position in semi-shade[
]. Rarely thrives on chalk[
]. Intolerant of dry soils[
A very hardy species, tolerating temperatures down to at least -25°c[
A very ornamental plant[
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. It can be dried, ground into a powder and then added to cereal flour for use in making bread etc. A very bitter flavour, it is a famine food that is only used when all else fails[
Young shoots - raw or cooked. They are not very palatable[
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[
Plants are grown as a low hedge at Wisley[
]. They can also be grown as a ground cover when spaced about 1.2 metres apart each way[
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.