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common name for some members of the Salicaceae, a family of deciduous trees and shrubs of worldwide distribution, especially abundant from north temperate to arctic areas. The family consists of two genera, Salix and Populus, both of which are propagated easily by cuttings, grow rapidly, and characteristically bear male and female flowers in catkins on separate plants.

Many plants of the narrower-leaved willow genus (Salix) flourish in cold, wet ground; willows grow farther north than any other woody angiosperm (flowering plant). The poplars (genus Populus) usually have heart-shaped or ovate leaves; they include the cottonwoods, aspens, and many species specifically named poplar. The cottonwoods (sometimes also called poplars) characteristically have seeds that are covered with fibrous coats so that when they are released at maturity they clump together in cottony balls. Cottonwoods were a welcome sight to the pioneers pushing westward, for they marked the streams in the otherwise treeless Great Plains. Some of the poplars, especially the aspens, have flattened leaf stalks that permit the pendulous leaves to quiver in the slightest breeze (hence the name quaking aspen). The quaking, or golden, aspen (P. termuloides) is a common deciduous tree of the mountains of the W United States; it is often the first tree to reforest burned-over woodlands. Large stands of aspen trees often consist of one or two clones connected at the roots. The hybrid species Populus × jackii is one of the plants called balm of Gileadbalm of Gilead
, name for several plants belonging to different taxonomic families. The historic Old World balm of Gilead, or Mecca balsam, is a small evergreen tree (Commiphora gileadensis, also once called C.
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Because the lumber of this family is so soft it finds little use except for paper pulp (mostly the poplars), for biomass and biofuel, for charcoal, and especially in basketry and wickerwork (mostly the willows). The bushes and their twigs used in basketry are often called osiers. Willow buds and bark have also been used medicinally; the chemical predecessor of aspirin was originally isolated from the bark of a willow. The trees are valuable in erosion control along riverbanks because of their rapid growth. The family is most noted for its many species planted as ornamentals, e.g., the Lombardy poplar (P. nigra cultivar Italica) and the silver, or white, poplar (P. alba), now naturalized in North America from Eurasia; the weeping willow (S. babylonica), indigenous to China; and the pussy willow (S. discolor) of North America with its silky catkins.

Yellow poplar or tulip poplar is a name sometimes used for the unrelated tulip tree of the magnoliamagnolia,
common name for plants of the genus Magnolia, and for the Magnoliaceae, a family of deciduous or evergreen trees and shrubs, often with showy flowers. They are principally of north temperate regions with centers of distribution in Asia and E North America.
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 family. Willows are classified in the division MagnoliophytaMagnoliophyta
, division of the plant kingdom consisting of those organisms commonly called the flowering plants, or angiosperms. The angiosperms have leaves, stems, and roots, and vascular, or conducting, tissue (xylem and phloem).
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, class Magnoliopsida, order Salicales, family Salicaceae.

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A natural form of Aspirin (salicylic acid) to stop pain if you make tea from the leaves or bark. Willow is more toxic to humans than other trees as a food source, but it's ok for some people to make tea from as a form of aspirin. For others, it may cause stomach problems and bleeding. If you take a willow branch and stick it in water with a branch from a fruit tree, the natural acids from the willow branch will make the fruit tree branch grow roots, so you can take the fruit tree branch and simply plant it to grow a new fruit tree ! Willow bark is very bitter and astringent, used for cancers, arthritis, rheumatism, diarrhea, pain, fever, sore throat, ulcers, bleeding problems, rashes, (including poison ivy), jaundice, skin problems, urinary issues, blood purification and toothaches. Do not take for long periods of time, or liver damage could result. Do not take if you have stomach ulcers.
Edible Plant Guide © 2012 Markus Rothkranz


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The willow tree was sacred to the goddesses Arianrhod, Circe, Hecate, and Persephone. On Circe's enchanted island, there was a grove of willows from which hung corpses. The virgin form of Hecate was Helice, who guarded Mount Helicon. She carried a willow wand as a cosmic symbol connected with the stars. In the Celtic tradition, the willow was called saille, the letter S, in the tree alphabet.

The willow was also a tree associated with grief, although this association probably dates only from the Middle Ages. The Bible refers to exiled Jews weeping beside the rivers of Babylon and hanging their harps on "willows" there. However, it is more likely that the trees referred to were the Euphrates aspen rather than what we know of as the willow.

Willow wands are used for divination and water witching, and are one of the preferred woods for the making of magical wands. Many modern Witches use the willow in healing rites and believe that a willow planted in the garden will draw down the blessings of the goddess from the moon, thus guarding the home. Other names for the willow are Saugh Tree, Tree of Enchantment, Witches' Aspirin, and Withy.

Scott Cunningham equates the willow with the moon and water, and with Artemis, Ceres, Hecate, Persephone, Hera, Mercury, Belili, and Belinus. He states that willow leaves are used in mixtures to attract love and that all parts of the willow guard against evil. The leaves, bark, and wood are utilized in healing spells.

The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism © 2002 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Salix), a genus of plants of the family Salicaceae. They are trees, shrubs, or shrublets with spirally placed, for the most part short-stemmed, leaves. The flowers are unisexual and dioecious and lack a perianth. They sit in the axils of covering scales and are gathered into dense clusters called catkins. The male flowers usually have one to eight (up to 12) stamens and the female, one pistil with a monothalamous ovary and two often delaminated stigmata. The fruit is a capsule containing numerous seeds with tufted pappi. Willows are pollinated by insects (mainly bees). There are approximately 300 species, predominantly in the temperate zone of Eurasia and North America.

The USSR has approximately 120 species; there are also many interspecies hybrids. The willow has many names in Russia: the large trees and shrubs that grow primarily in the west of the European part of the USSR are called vetla (white willow, Salix alba), verba (daphne willow, S. daphnoides), sheliuga (sharp-leaved willow, S. acutifolia), and rakita (goat willow, S. cap-red); bushes are called loza or lozniak (French willow, S. triandra); and the usually shrubby species of the eastern regions of the European part of the USSR, Siberia, and Middle Asia are called tal or tal’nik (purple osier, S. purpurea).

The polar and high-altitude willows are low-growing, spreading shrublets that reach a height of only a few centimeters—for example, the polar willow (S. polaris) and the dwarf willow (S. herbacea). But there are willows that grow 30–40 m tall and over 0.5 m in diameter.

The majority of willows are small trees (10–15 m) or shrubs. Their ability to produce adventitious roots permits willows to be easily propagated from cuttings and even from twigs (except for the goat willow, S. capred). The seeds lose their germinating capacity within several days; only the bay willow (S. pentan-drd) seeds remain vital until the following spring.

Willow wood is very light and soft and rots readily. It is used for making small hand-carved articles. In unforested areas willow is used as a building material. The withes of some shrubby willows (osier, purple willow and French willow) are used for weaving baskets and making furniture. The leafy branches of the willow are used as fodder for animals (especially goats and sheep). The bark of many willows is used for tanning leathers (the gray, goat, and white willows). The bark of some species contains the glucoside salicin, which has medicinal value. Many species are ornamental (common osier, S. viminalis). Willows are used for reinforcing sands (sharp-leaved willow, Caspian willow), the banks of canals and ditches, and the slopes of dams (white willow, brittle willow); in antierosion plantings in forest-steppe and steppe regions (white, brittle, and osier willows); and as field-protecting and roadside forest strips on moister soils.


Morozov, I. R. Ivy SSSR, ikh ispol’zovanie i primenenie v zashchitnom lesorazvedenii. Moscow-Leningrad, 1950.
Pravdin, L. F. Iva, ee kul’tura i ispol’zovanie. Moscow, 1952.
Levitskii, I. I. Iva i ee ispol’zovanie. Moscow, 1965.
Skvortsov, A. K. Ivy SSSR. Moscow, 1968.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A deciduous tree and shrub of the genus Salix, order Salicales; twigs are often yellow-green and bear alternate leaves which are characteristically long, narrow, and pointed, usually with fine teeth along the margins.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


tree emblem of rejected affection. [Plant Symbolism: “Tit-Willow,” Mikado; “Willow Song,” Othello]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. any of numerous salicaceous trees and shrubs of the genus Salix, such as the weeping willow and osiers of N temperate regions, which have graceful flexible branches, flowers in catkins, and feathery seeds
2. the whitish wood of certain of these trees
3. something made of willow wood, such as a cricket or baseball bat
4. a machine having a system of revolving spikes for opening and cleaning raw textile fibres
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005