Willows among the easiest trees to grow

There are lots of willow trees in Canada. Actually, there are about 90 species in Canada—and about 300 different species in the world.
Add to this the fact that many of them cross-breed with each other and you have a family with a whole bunch of trees in it.
Willows grow all across Canada, from the Yukon to Labrador. They also grow in a great deal of the rest of the New World, and, of course, since history began in the Old World.
The one we all love in the early spring is the Pussy Willow (Salix discolor). In March or April, the scales fall off the willow buds. Right away, the male flowers start to grow into those soft, furry bundles which we so admire.
They may be anywhere from the size of your little fingernail to as big as your thumb knuckle. Take them into the house and admire them.
In 10 days or so, they will develop into full male blooms—catkins—about an inch or two long, drooping, and covered with bright yellow pollen which blows around like dust.
Female flowers are different. They are very small and don’t have any kind of distinguished look about them at all. They do have nectar, though, and this is just what the bees and flies are looking for.
That’s how the pollination gets done.
Take note that each tree carries only one sex, so it has only one kind of flower. The seeds are really very small. When they are ready to take off from the tree, they do so with the help of a little “parachute” made up of those tiny white hairs.
The male trees have no fruit of any kind at all.
The Pussy Willow is a shrub (mostly) and usually grows to a maximum of about 30 feet or so. The leaves of all willows are much the same—quite narrow and pointy at both ends.
Bud scales are always alternated along the small branches.
Lots of willow trees are planted around homes, and in towns and cities. One of these is the Weeping Willow, which is a good-sized tree (up to 90 feet tall).
And it has that drooping habit, which makes it such a nice-looking tree as well as a very noticeable one. In history, Napoleon once hid under the branches of a Weeping Willow when the British were looking for him (he got away).
Willow branches are very flexible, and are used for baskets and for wicker work. They also secrete tannic acid, which is used for tanning leather (if you ever lived near a tanning factory, you would know that paper mills are not the only awful-smelling workplaces).
And, almost all polo balls are made out of Black Willow.
Willows often are used for fences and windbreaks. The reason for that is all you have to do is stick a willow twig in the ground and very likely it will grow.
Even a fence post has been known to grow into a tree.
Common everywhere, and delightful in the early spring, willows are some of the easiest trees to grow—and some of them are beautiful ones, indeed.

Posted in Uncategorized