There are many types of weeping willow but the Golden weeping willow really stands out especially in the spring time. Like all willows they prefer moist or wet soil but will still grow in drier soils. For this reason they are nearly always found by rivers, streams and lakes. There are three fantastic Golden weeping willows at Exe bridges which I have studied for over a year. They are a fast growing tree and require a lot of space to be show their full potential. They should be left to grow with their natural grace so if you are considering planting a species of willow in your garden - this might not be suitable. Also the root system can easily damage underground water and sewer pipes so are not well suited as typical garden tree.s.
Another reason why willows are often planted along rivers and water bodies is their fantastic ability to absorb vast amounts of water. They are the best natural flood mitigation defence - much better than an ugly old concrete wall! The Golden weeping willow is also a fantastic shade tree as well as having a beautiful canopy. Like all members of the willow family they are usually dioecious which means there are separate male and female trees. The key characteristic of the Golden weeping willow is the stunning weeping branches which are beautiful all year round. During the spring time the male flowers will come out first shortly followed by female flowers - where there are both sexes of trees.
The leaves are up to 16 cm in length and have are lighter underneath
They make excellent shade trees
The leaves are elongated and can reach lengths as long as 16 cm. During the summer and autumn time the leaves and branches literately sweep the ground adding to the beauty of the tree. The twigs and branches are a lovely green - yellow colour and in January really make the tree stand out. Although the root system is very strong the general strength of the wood isn't so there is a higher chance of large limbs or branches falling off. For this reason Willows are not usually planted in parks or directly by paths / roads.
The female flowers turn into fluffy seeds during the summer
The twigs and branches are extremely flexible making them perfect for basket weaving
The flowers are on catkins which appear in the spring. The male flowers appear first and then the female flowers. The male flowers are easier to spot as they are bright yellow whereas the female catkins are green and often get missed because of the leaves. The flowers are inspect pollinated and offer an early source of food for bees and other insect pollinators. As the female flowers mature into seeds they become fluffy and in the summer time are dispersed by the wind. If there is a high amount of seed release the sky can be filled with fluffy white balls - so it seems like it is snowing in the middle of summer! The tree can easily propagate from young twigs or branches that have fallen to the ground.
The bark is rough and grey with long deep ridges
The buds are bright green and closely pressed against the twigs
The Golden weeping willow is one of the few trees which stands out all year around. In spring time the tree is covered in catkins and attracting a wide variety of insects. At summer time the sweeping branches provide shade from the sun and peace to anybody nearby. At Autumn the leaves turn a variety of yellow and green and soon cover the ground and during the winter the structure of the tree is revealed to show a grand and twisted structure. Overall an absolutely fantastic tree and would be nice to see a few more along the river Exe. The only downside is their rather short life span. As they are fast growing trees they will only live up to 100 years in favourable conditions. Most sources advise around 30 years for the average life expectancy for this type of tree .
The weeping willow got it's name from how raindrops falling from the drooping branches resemble tears
They have elongated leaves that are green on the upper side and whitish on the bottom
The Colour of the leaves changes seasonally and during the autumn they turn yellow / green
It is a deciduous tree, which means that it sheds its leaves during the winter
The root systems are strong and spreading and can quite easily damage underground pipes and sewers
Willow is dioecious in nature which means that each tree is either female or male
The flowers are small catkins which are yellow / green and often missed. The male catkins are easier to spot
The flowers come out at the beginning of the spring. The male catkins usually are the first to be seen
The flowers are rich in nectar which attracts insects and ensures pollination
The seeds are dispersed by the wind
It can easily reproduce from broken twigs and leaves as well as seed
This tree is extremely fast growing and in some cases it can grow up to 3 meters in a single year
The Golden weeping willow can absorb large quantities of water making it a great natural flood defence
The strong, deep and wide root system also prevents soil erosion
Willow is widely used in the field of medicine. A compound isolated from the bark called "salicin" is used to make aspirin
In the past people used to chew the bark to treat fever, inflammation and general pain
Willow are widely used in the manufacture of baskets, fishing nets, furniture and toys A mixture of dyes can be extracted and used for tanning in leather making
It is a short lived tree compared to other deciduous trees. Typically 30 years is the average life expectancy
The Golden weeping willow is native to central and southern Europe, western Siberia and central Asia
The leaf arrangement is alternate and the length of the leaves can be up to 16 cm
They can reach heights of up to 15 meters but can also be equally as wide
The branch structure can be quite crooked and the branches can be quite low to the ground making them good climbing trees
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