Willow / Suil

20130710-194900.jpgWillow comes in many forms, shapes and sizes and is an immensely useful and adaptable family of trees, including some of the smallest trees in the world, growing in extreme climates.


tundra tree
tiny teacher of

Mandy Haggith

Some snippets of folklore

There are many species of willows, which have a wide range of uses. As a tree of enchantment, willow also has many fascinating magical tales associated with it.

Salacious and salach (dirty) have the same root as sallow.

Sallows are called sauch in Scots (as in Sauchiehall St).

Willows are used for baskets, creels, eel traps, gabions, ropes, bridles and tackle, barrel hoops, fencing, gates, wall panels, shields, coffins, beehives, camans (shinty sticks), cricket bats and stumps.

Wickerwork carts called lupins pulled by Shetland ponies were ‘a common sight on the streets of Inverness’ in the 19th Century.

Willow is useful animal fodder.

Willow bark can be used for tanning leather and nets.

Willow bark yields cinnamon dye.

Willow is good for fuel and charcoal. It is grown in short rotation coppice for fuel.

Writing/drawing charcoal is made from willow twigs.

Willow has male and female flowers on separate plants. It is pollinated by insects.

Willow pollen is very nutritious and important for bees in spring.

Willow seeds are dispersed by the wind. Bast is the fluff around the seeds. It’s good kindling.

Willow bast can be used as cotton thread – twist a 3-ply cord into a circle to protect from evil.

Willow was an early coloniser after the ice age.

Willow ‘strikes’ easily from a cutting and it coppices vigorously. It is widely used for living structures and shelters.

Willow can extract contaminants from soil.

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