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Common Name: Bay Willow
Salix pentandra is a deciduous tree that can grow up to 10.00 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.
Europe, including Britain, from Norway south and east to the Pyrenees, Siberia, Caucasus, W. Asia.
Stream-sides, marshes, fens and wet woods, ascending to 450 metres[
]. Native in N. Britain, planted elsewhere[
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[
A very ornamental plant[
]. Best planted into its permanent position when young[
]. The root system is rather aggressive and can cause problems with drains[
The dried or bruised leaves have a sweet aromatic fragrance[
]. The scent resembles oil of wintergreen and is due to the presence of salicyl aldehyde[
Cultivated for its use in basket making, there are several named varieties[
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 - cooked. 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[
The bark of this species is used interchangeably with S. alba. It is taken internally in the treatment of rheumatism, arthritis, gout, inflammatory stages of auto-immune diseases, diarrhoea, dysentery, feverish illnesses, neuralgia and headache[
]. The bark is removed during the summer and dried for later use[
The leaves are used internally in the treatment of minor feverish illnesses and colic[
]. The leaves can be harvested throughout the growing season and are used fresh or dried[
The stems are very flexible and are used in basket making[
]. The plant is usually coppiced annually when grown for basket making, though it is possible to coppice it every two years if thick poles are required as uprights.
The dried leaves have a pleasant aromatic aroma and can be used in pot-pourri[
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.