Willow, or Salix, L. a genus of trees comprising 42 species ; 22 being indigenous, of which the following are the principal :
1. The viminalis. See Osier.
2.The capreata. See Sallow. - Beside the purposes to which this species may be applied, according to our account, p. 13 of the present volume, its soft, flexible, white, and smooth wood, is used for making handles to hatchets, prongs, spades, and other rural implements: it also furnishes shoe-makers with cutting and whetting-boards, on which they cut leather, and sharpen the edges of their knives. - In Sweden, the young bark is not only used for tanning, but also, in combination with that of the alder-tree, for dyeing linen-yarn of a fine black colour.
3. The purpurea, v. Helix, v. monandra, Rose, Purple, or Red Willow, grows in hedges, watery places, and the sides of rivers, where it blossoms in the month of April or May. Its long, slender, and flexible shoots, are manufactured into baskets, cradles, and other articles of wicker-work. - This species eminently deserves to be cultivated in the sandy banks of rapid streams ; as it is one of the most useful trees for consolidating loose soils, and even drift-sands.
4. The triandra, or Smooth Willow, grows to the height of from (5 to 10 feet, in moist woods, hedges, and the banks of rivers; flowers in the month of April. - Its bark, in doses of from one to two drams, has been successfully employed in agues.
5. The pentandra, Sweet, or Bay-leaved Willow, is found in forests and hedges, principally in the North of England, where it flowers in April. - The wood of this species remarkably crackles in the fire; the young shoots are eaten by sheep and goats ; the leaves afford a yellow dye ; and the pliant branches are converted into hampers, or the larger kinds of baskets. - For medicinal purposes, the bark from young trees is even preferable to that of the preceding species. - Lastly, the down of the seeds, when mixed with one-third part of cotton, has been found to be an useful substitute for that vegetable wool, in the manufacture of stockings, and other articles.
6. The vitellina, Golden, or Yellow Willow, abounds in osier-holts, and flowers in May. Its shoots are used by cradle or basket-makers; its white, tough, pliant twigs, are employed by nursery men and gardeners, for tying up the branches of wall and espa-lier-trees. - The wool surrounding its seed-vessels, when mixed with cotton, affords excellent yarn for various manufacturing purposes.
7.The amygdalina, or Almond-leaved Willow, grows on the banks of rivers, where it flowers in April or May; and a second time, in August. - The tough branches of this species are employed like those of the preceding.
8. The fragilis, or CrAck Willow, attains a considerable height in moist woods, hedges, and on the banks of rivers ; it blossoms in April or May. - This tree grows with uncommon luxuriance, and will admit of being Cropped every year : it has received this name from the remarkable brittlrness of its branches ; which, if stricken with a finger, break off at the shoot of the current year. The bark of these branches, possessing) uncommon bitterness and astringency, has been recommended as a substitute for the Peruvian : it is certainly preferable to that of all other native trees : and, if given in doses about one-third exceeding the proportion of such expensive drug, it may, with advantage, be used where the latter is indicated. When administered in powders, of from one to two drams, it has also proved efficacious in removing intermittent fevers. On account of it's early blossoms, which are \ grateful to bees, it should be raised near their hives : - a decoction of the roots imparts a reddieh-brown colour.
9. The herbacea, or Herbaceous Willow, is the smallest tree of the willow-kind; its stem not exceeding 2 feet in height, and the branches being scarcely onefoot long. It grows in moist, mountainous situations, chiefly on the sides of Snowdon, and the mountains of Westmoreland, Yorkshire, and Scotland ; where its yellow flowers appear in July. - This species is, according to HoffmanN, fondly eaten by horses and other cattle.
10. The rubra, or Red WilW 1 L low, is a very scarece species being found Wild Only in the Osier-holt between Maidenhead and
Windsor : it flowers in the month of May. There is a variety of if, known under the names of the Norfolk, Hertford, Hereford, and Broad-leaved, Red-hearted Hun-lonshire Willow, which may advantageously be planted in moist situations, on account of the luxuriance and rapidity of The tough, light wood of this tree is employed for gates, hurdles, and other agricultural implements : the pliant twigs are in great request for making baskets, cradles, and also for tying up wall fruit-trees.
11. The cinerea, or SaLlow-willow, is the most common of the kind, abounding in moist hedge-rows, and woods ; where it attains the height of more than six feet, and blossoms in April. - This species is chiefly remarkable for its beautiful flowering branches, which are gathered about a v. or ten days before Easter, and sold under the name of palms.
12. The alba, WhitE, or Common Willow, abounds in wo hedge-rows, in wet meadow, and pasture-grounds, where it attains a considerable size ; flowering in the month of April. - Its blossoms are eagerly visited by bees ; its leaves and young shoots are eaten by horses, cows, sheep, and goats: - the wood is employed in making poles, hoop.-, for casks-, stakes, and likewise for fuel : - the bark communicates a cinnamon colour to yarn, and is not only advantageously used in tanning leather, but has also, like that of the Crack and Smooth Willows, been sue-fully administered in agues. The Rev. Mr. Stone (" Philosophical Transactions of the Royal
Society, " vol.liii.) directs such bark to be gathered in the summer, when it abounds with sap ; to be, dried in a moderate hent; and to be taken in doses of one dram, every 4hours, between the fits : in a few obstinate eases, Mr. S found it neces-sary to mix one-fifth part of Peru-vian bark with that of the Common Willow. - As this tree frequently grows in Wet, marshy situations, where agues are most prevalent, its bark promises to afford a valuable substitute for the foreign drug, especially as the price of the latter has lately been so exorbitant, that the poor cannot easily procure it; while its quality becomes every year more impaired, by base and fraudulent adulterations.
Beside .these indigenous species, there are two exotics, which deserve to be mentioned :
1. The Babylonica, or Weeping-willow, is a native of the East, whence its culture has been introduced into Britain. It nourishes by the sides of rivers, attaining to a considerable size; and its long, depending branches, contri-bute greatly to diversify the scenery : it is raised chiefly for ornament.
All the species above enume. rated, delight in moist situations, excepting the sallow, which thrives better in a dry soil. They may be easily propagated by planting sets, cuttings, or truncheons of willows, about 6 years old, either in spring or in autumn; as they speedily take root, and, in the course of a few years, amply repay the ex-pence and trouble bestowed on their culture. In order to ensure success, the truncheons ought previously to be steeped in soft water; for a few days: both ends must then be obliquely smoothened ; the upper part be covered with soil, and exposed with its orifice towards the east. The earth should be moderately compressed with the foot, around the stem, so that it may more readily absorb moisture: in the third year, the top should be cleared, to promote the growth of the bark. - The Yellow- Willow, however, ought never to be planted too near wells, or springs, because its spreading roots retard their course: thus, Mr. Bordley (in his " Essays and Notes on Husbandry" etc.) mentions an instance, in which a spring was completely choked up, by their rapid absorption of water. On the contrary, this species may with advantage be propagated in swampy situations ; as its roots tend to consolidate the ground ; and, after a few years, the soil will generally be converted into a firm meadow.