Willow tree

How to properly grow a willow tree

Growing a willow tree is ultimately pretty simple: they are hardy plants, which don’t need special care. They need a well-nourished and very humid soil, in fact they grow spontaneously along the banks of rivers or on the shores of lakes, but, being rustic plants, they also adapt well in other environments and have an excellent ability to survive. Due to its structural conformation, it does not require pruning: however, these may be necessary to protect them from bad weather, to strengthen and thicken their foliage, and also in case of parasitic attacks. Willow pruning is a delicate job, which is best left to the hands of experts. In the event that the branches touch the ground, it is possible to intervene with supports to be applied to the branches themselves.

The different practical uses of the willow plant

The willow tree is primarily usable as an ornamental and decorative plant of great impact in gardens. Moreover, given the characteristic flexibility of its branches, it is particularly used for wicker weaving crafts. From its branches, pruned in winter, it is possible to obtain artistic weaves to create baskets, rustic or more refined, bags, objects for the home and various types of furniture. It can be used both with and without bark. Before being processed, it needs soaking times that can be longer or shorter depending on whether the bark has been removed or not. The thinner and more flexible branches can be used in the cultivation of the vine, to tie the shoots. Its branches also provide excellent firewood.

Medicinal and therapeutic use of the willow plant

Willow bark contains valuable substances for our well-being. To be able to extract these substances, the willow tree must be at least two or three years old. The substances extracted from the willow bark are effective against rheumatic pains and have analgesic abilities in general. They are also useful against muscle spasms of various origins and help to lower fever and soothe the symptoms of flu. The useful active ingredient is salicin, which is used in pharmaceutical and phytotherapeutic preparations. Like any type of medication, the active ingredients extracted from the willow bark should only be taken under the prescription and supervision of the doctor, because they can generate serious side effects.

Willow tree: Stories and legends around the willow tree

Weeping willow plants, loving humid soils, are often born on the banks of rivers: an ancient belief has it that these rivers were generated by the tears of these plants, called weeping due to their characteristic shape. For the Jewish people, however, the willow was linked to water and rain. For the ancient Greeks, the willow was somehow linked to the cycle of life, death, and life after death: this is because it is able to quickly regenerate its broken or pruned branches. Its link with the world of the dead emerges from the myth of Odysseus, who in his adventures seeks the entrance to the underworld in a willow wood, and also from the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, when the former tries to attract the latter into the ‘beyond holding up a sprig of willow.

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