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Salix alba - White Willow

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Magnoliopsida - Order: Malpighales - Family: Salicaceae

White willow

Common in England but less so in the west of Wales, where pussy willow (Goat Willow) is more prevalent, White Willows are fond of wet ground and often flank rivers and streams.

Left to grow naturally on exposed riverbanks, White Willows (like their close relative the Crack Willow) tend to split in stormy weather and their broken, trailing branches can cause obstructions to water flow. These trees were often coppiced (cut at ground level) or pollarded (cut of at just above head height) - practices seen less often nowadays.

White Willow is a traditional basket-making material and was also woven for sheep hurdles. Cricket bats are made from a cultivated derivative of the White Willow.

The willow shown above has been pollarded many times, its upper branches being cut right back. New shoots soon grow in their place.

Weeping willow

Weeping willows are often grown as ornamental trees in parks and large gardens.