This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol5-6", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
The habitat of this plant is river-banks, marshes, stream-sides, moist places. The Alder nas the tree habit. The trunk and branches are crooked. It is a bush or tree 20-40 or 70 ft. in height, with a trunk 1-2 ft. in diameter. The bark is black, the wood white, turning red, then pink. The leaves are shortly-stalked, glutinous, downy in the axils of veins below, hairy when young, wavy, coarsely-toothed, inversely ovate or rounded to wedge-shaped, green both sides. The stipules are ovate. The male flowers are in long, pendent catkins, which appear before the leaves, with red, round bracts; the female flowers are in short, racemose spikes, terminal, oblong or ovoid, blunt, with reddish-brown woody bracts. The fruit is pale, scarcely winged. The Alder is fairly tall, flowering in March and April, and is a deciduous tree.
The habitat of this plant is Scotch bogs, turfy places, mountains. The plant has the shrub or bush habit, prostrate, then ascending. The leaves are small, round, scalloped, hairless, shortly-stalked, blunt, dark-green. The catkins are compound inflorescences a quarter as large as in B. alba (q.v.), the scales of the female catkins digitate to 3-fid, inversely wedge-shaped, with equal, rounded lobes, small, nearly stalkless. The fruit has a narrow, membranous border, and is round. The plant is 1-2 ft. high, flowering in May, and is a perennial shrub.
The habitat of this willow is river-banks, osier beds, wet woods. The plant has the willow habit. The bark is flaky. The leaves are linear-oblong, lance-shaped, smooth, acute, coarsely-toothed, narrowed to the base, paler below. The stipules are half heart-shaped, blunt. The catkins are slender, oblong, ovate, stalked, and appear with the leaves. The female catkins are narrower. The disk of the male flower is 2-glandular. There are 3 stamens (hence triandra). The stigma is more or less stalkless, with a thick short style. The scales are persistent, smooth. The ovary is not furrowed. The capsule is small, round, smooth. The height reached is 20 ft. This species flowers in April and May, and is a deciduous tree.
The habitat of this plant is wet places, osier beds. The Osier has the shrub or tree habit, with long, slender, straight, wand-like branches, when young silky, polished and leafy when older. The leaves are linear to lance-shaped, with a long point, narrowed into a stalk, shining, netted above, bluish-green or silvery and silky below, the entire or obscurely-scalloped margin rolled back. The stipules are small, linear to lance-shaped. The catkins are stalkless, lance-shaped, long, and appear before the leaves, being golden-yellow. The scales are oblong, brown, and blunt. There are small bracts, or none. The style is long, linear, and entire. The stigmas are entire. The capsule is shortly-stalked, downy, with a broad base, white, lance-shaped or awl-like. The Osier reaches a height of 30 ft. The flowers bloom from April to June. The tree is deciduous and perennial.
The habitat of this plant is river-banks, osier beds, marshes. The habit is erect or prostrate, with tough, slender twigs. The bark is red or purple. The leaves are sometimes more or less opposite, thin, linear to lance-shaped, long-pointed, narrow above and below, glandular, coarsely-toothed, bluish-green, black when dry, when young slightly hairy, shortly-stalked, broadest just below the middle. There are no stipules. The catkins are oval, cylindrical, stalkless, opposite or alternate, erect, then spreading or bent back. The fertile catkins are compact. The scales are small and purple. The anther is purple. The stigma is oval, with a very short style. The capsule is ovoid and blunt. The Purple Osier is 5-20 ft. high, flowering in March and April. It is a deciduous perennial.
The habitat of this plant is hedges and damp woods, osier beds. It has been regarded as a variety of S. viminalis. The buds are downy. The leaves are lance-shaped to oblong, bluish-green, pointed, ash-colour, and downy or hardly silky below, finely-toothed. The stipules are half heart-shaped. The capsule is ovate, tapering. The stigmas are oval, entire, with a large style. This species grows to a height of 25-30 ft. It flowers in April, and is a deciduous shrub or tree.