Osier, Salix

tree of the family Salicaceae (Poplar, Willow).

Etymology: from Latin "Salix", of Indo-European origin; the ancient French name, " Saus ", gave Saulx, Sauzon, Saussaie.
are European :
- the white Osier (or Willow of the basket-makers), to the left;
- the Wisconsin Weeping Willow, Salix alba, so named because the underside of leaves is white (and very visible when wind blows);
- the Goat Willow, Salix caprea.
The weeping Willow, Salix babylonica, dear to Alfred de Musset, is native to China (to the right, in the slide). It was introduced into Europe in 1692. The Latin name of the weeping willow, Babylonica, was given to it by Linné according to the legend according to which it would have sheltered the tears of the captive Jews in Babylon. For history, Alfred de Musset asked for a Willow near his tomb, in the graveyard of Père-Lachaise (Paris), but soil, clay green compact, prohibits the growth of roots. The tree you see is puny and shriveled leaves. It must be changed every 4 years.
There is a Black Willow, of American origin, with a spread form, blackish trunk, reaching 12 m tall.

Habitat: willows like light and water. They sucker from roots and it is enough to pull down branches in clump.
The weeping willow needs a lot of humidity. It is a tree which grows well near watercourses, pools or ponds.
The weeping willow is planted by cutting, which takes root easily.

Roots: they are both extensive and creeping.
the white willow has an irregular form and a sparse crown. The weeping willow has a characteristic weeping form.

Willows have a deciduous foliage. Leaves are entire, arranged in spiral on branches (alternate).

Flowers: By spring, the yellow catkins appear on certain subjects, bronze-green catkins on others. The female flowers carry nectaries, secretion of which attracts insects. The willow has the gear of an "anemophilous" (tree pollinated thanks to the wind), but it equips itself at the same time as an entomophilous (pollinated by insects). Its flower, very tiny, has 2 - 3 stamens. The female catkins liberate seeds like cotton-wool in June-July.
Risk of allergenic pollen : weak because flowers disperse little pollen in air.

fly over the picture for a closer look.

Difference White osier Wisconsin Weeping Willow Goat Willow Whining willow
Lifespan 30 years 120 years 50 years 100 years
Size 25 m 25 m 12 m 12 m
Bark smooth silver grey smooth grayish white, then deeply cracked blackish smooth silver grey deeply cracked
dark grey
Stems long and flexible long and flexible   pendulous, fine, longs
Leaves long (18 - 20 cm), not toothed, lanceolate, narrow, the margin of which winds, (10 cm) toothed, narrow, elliptical tough, oval, broad in the middle (15 cm) narrow, toothed
Petiole court   pubescent, red without petiole
Underside shaggy silver and silky grey.   dense felted layer whitish grey  
Catkins at the end of April, before leaves the end of April the beginning of April in May

Advices of pruning: The weeping willow, tree with deciduous foliage, is pruned in winter, when it lose all the leaves. It is its period of dormancy. It is better to prune it every year but rather slightly, than seldom but severely. Not forget common precautions (disinfect the pruning tools before any interventions, disinfect and put mastic on the pruning wounds).

Uses: the flexible but resistant wood serves for fabricating crates cricket bats and. The white Osier is sharpened court, in tadpole. These branches or osiers serve in basketry, in Latin "Vimen", hence Viminal. The bark of the Wisconsin Weeping Willow contains a glucoside called salicine, with analgesic, febrifuge and anti-rheumatic properties:

added with alcohol, this principle is being diluted in salicylic alcohol, which is oxidized to produce salicylic acid, which enters into the preparation of aspirin. The leaves and buds contain a sedative principle.    
The sheet of white willow was used by the Travellers as a decoy for predator fishing (pike, perch, pike). Hook attached to a sealed, white willow leaf reacts in the water like a small fish, forage fish which are eaten by predators. (Contributed by Jean Marc Caffarel on 19/05/2005)

Legends and traditions: In Greek mythology, the Willow is devoted to Hécate (as the English Yew), goddess of the Moon and of Hell. In the Bible, it is written that its branches served for fabricating thyrses for the holiday of the Tabernacles. In Celtic astrology, the willow is tree of the melancholics.
Literature: a poem was devoted to it by Alfred de Musset and an other one by Émile Verhaeren.


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