Copyright 1995 Brother Eric Vogel, St. Mary's College

Caudata Willow
Salix lucida
ssp. caudata  Nutt.

A woody, rather large decidious shrub with simple, alternate leaves and dense spikes (catkins) of unisexual flowers.  The ovary develops inot a capsule that splits open at maturity, releasing hundreds of minute seeds with cottony appendages that catch the wind, allowing wide seed dispersal. The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. The plant prefers acid and neutral soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires moist or wet soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure. Found in area of forests at elevations between 6000 and 8500 feet and usually under natural wet conditions.

Medicinal Uses:
The bark is analgesic, antiasthmatic, astringent and haemostatic. It is used in the treatment of bleeding and asthma. A poultice of the bark has been applied to the head to allay the pain of headaches. The poultice has also been used to treat sores and bleeding cuts. An infusion of the leaves is used as an analgesic in the treatment of headaches. The fresh bark contains salicin, which probably decomposes into salicylic acid (closely related to aspirin) in the human body. This is used as an anodyne and febrifuge.

A fast-growing, but short lived plant.  Succeeds in most soils, including wet, ill-drained or intermittently flooded soils, but prefers a damp, heavy soil in a sunny position.   To grow from seed it must be surface sown as soon as it is ripe in late spring. It has a very short viability, perhaps as little as a few days. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, in June to August is relatively simple.  Cutting may be made from mature wood of the current year's growth, November to February in a sheltered outdoor bed or planted straight into their permanent position and given a good weed-suppressing mulch. Very easy. Plant into their permanent positions in the autumn.

Return to main plant page