This article has been marked as incomplete and in need of reformatting. Please help us to improve it.

Practical Plants is a community wiki. You can edit this page to improve the quality of the information it contains. To learn how, please read the editing guide.


Edible uses


Inner bark - raw or cooked. It can be dried, ground into a powder and added to cereal flour then used in making bread etc[1]. A very bitter flavour, especially when fresh[1][2], it is used as a famine food when all else fails[3].

Leaves and young shoots - raw or cooked[1][4]. Not very palatable[3]. They are used only in times of scarcity[5].

The leaves can be used as a tea substitute[6].

Inner bark


Unknown part


Material uses

The young stems are very flexible and are used in basket making[7][8][6]. The plant is usually coppiced annually when grown for basket making, though it is possible to coppice it every two years if thick poles are required as uprights.

The bark can be used for tying plants[6]. A fibre obtained from the stems is used in making paper[9]. The stems are harvested in spring or summer, the leaves are removed and the stems steamed until the fibres can be stripped. The fibres are cooked for 2 hours with lye and then beaten with mallets or put through a blender. The paper is red/brown in colour[9]. A fast growing tree and tolerant of maritime exposure, it can be grown as a shelterbelt[10]. The plant's rapid growth and wind tolerance make it a very good pioneer species to use in establishing woodland conditions in difficult sites. Spacing cuttings about every 5 metres will soon provide shelter and a suitable environment for planting out woodland trees that are not so wind tolerant. The main disadvantage in using this species is that the roots are far-ranging and the plant is quite greedy, so it will not as much effect as species such as the alders (Alnus species) in enriching the soil and thus feeding the woodland plants[K].

Wood - elastic, soft, easy to split, does not splinter. Used for construction, turnery, poles, tool handles etc[11][8][6]. The wood is also used to make charcoal[11], which has medicinal uses[12].

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Justly famous as the original source of salicylic acid (the precursor of aspirin), white willow and several closely related species have been used for thousands of years to relieve joint pain and manage fevers[13].

The bark is anodyne, anti-inflammatory, antiperiodic, antiseptic, astringent, diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge, hypnotic, sedative and tonic[14][12][15][16][17]. It has been used internally in the treatment of dyspepsia connected with debility of the digestive organs[14], rheumatism, arthritis, gout, inflammatory stages of auto-immune diseases, feverish illnesses, neuralgia and headache[18]. Its tonic and astringent properties render it useful in convalescence from acute diseases, in treating worms, chronic dysentery and diarrhoea[14]. The fresh bark is very bitter and astringent[19]. It contains salicin, which probably decomposes into salicylic acid (closely related to aspirin) in the human body[20]. This is used as an anodyne and febrifuge[20]. The bark is harvested in the spring or early autumn from 3 - 6 year old branches and is dried for later use[12][15].

The leaves are used internally in the treatment of minor feverish illnesses and colic[18]. An infusion of the leaves has a calming effect and is helpful in the treatment of nervous insomnia[12]. When added to the bath water, the infusion is of real benefit in relieving widespread rheumatism[12]. The leaves can be harvested throughout the growing season and are used fresh or dried[18].


Ecosystem niche/layer


Ecological Functions




Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - 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 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. Branches of older wood as long as 2.5 metres can be used[21]. Very easy. Plant into their permanent positions in the autumn.

Cuttings of half-ripe wood, June to August in a frame. Very easy.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Salix alba. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


A very easily grown plant, it succeeds in most soils, including wet, ill-drained or intermittently flooded soils[21], but prefers a damp, heavy soil in a sunny position[22]. Rarely thrives on chalk[22] and dislikes poor thin soils[23]. Very tolerant of maritime exposure and atmospheric pollution[10][23].

Trees respond well to coppicing or pollarding[23]. Best planted into its permanent position as soon as possible, trees respond badly to transplanting unless they are moved regularly. The root system is rather aggressive and can cause problems with drains[22]. A very important food plant for the caterpillars of many species of butterflies[24] and a good bee plant, providing an early source of nectar and pollen[11]. A very good wildlife habitat, more than 200 species of insects are associated with this tree[25]. There are many sub-species and cultivars in this species[26]. S. alba caerulea is the cricket bat willow, cultivated for its wood[11][27]. S. alba vitellina. (L.)Stokes. has been cultivated for its very tough stems that are used as tie rods in basket making[28][27]. The cultivar 'Cardinal' is also grown for its use in basket making[27]. This species is used commercially in papermaking[9]. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus, especially S. fragilis, to which it is closely related[11]. Trees cast a relatively light shade.

Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Salix alba. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Salix alba.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Salix alba
Imported References
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
no shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
  • Strong wind
  • Maritime exposure
Native Climate Zones
None listed.
Adapted Climate Zones
None listed.
Native Geographical Range
None listed.
Native Environment
None listed.
Ecosystem Niche
Root Zone Tendancy
None listed.
Deciduous or Evergreen
Herbaceous or Woody
Life Cycle
Growth Rate
Mature Size
Flower Colour
Flower Type

"image:Thomé_Salix_alba_clean.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Thomé_Salix_alba_clean.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Thomé_Salix_alba_clean.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:Thomé_Salix_alba_clean.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Thomé_Salix_alba_clean.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:Thomé_Salix_alba_clean.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:Thomé_Salix_alba_clean.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:Thomé_Salix_alba_clean.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Thomé_Salix_alba_clean.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Thomé_Salix_alba_clean.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Thomé_Salix_alba_clean.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Thomé_Salix_alba_clean.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Thomé_Salix_alba_clean.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:Thomé_Salix_alba_clean.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki."image:Thomé_Salix_alba_clean.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki."image:Thomé_Salix_alba_clean.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.


  1. ? Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
  2. ? 2.02.1 Johnson. C. P. The Useful Plants of Great Britain. ()
  3. ? Schofield. J. J. Discovering Wild Plants - Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest. ()
  4. ? 4.04.1 Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption. Koeltz Scientific Books ISBN 3874292169 (1984-00-00)
  5. ? 5.05.1 Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World. Keigaku Publishing (1976-00-00)
  6. ? Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
  7. ? 7.07.1 Triska. Dr. Hamlyn Encyclopaedia of Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-33545-3 (1975-00-00)
  8. ? Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
  9. ? Bell. L. A. Plant Fibres for Papermaking. Liliaceae Press (1988-00-00)
  10. ? Rosewarne experimental horticultural station. Shelter Trees and Hedges. Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1984-00-00)
  11. ? Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-00-00)
  12. ? Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald ISBN 0-356-10541-5 (1984-00-00)
  13. ? 13.013.1 Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants Dorling Kindersley. London ISBN 9-780751-303148 (1996-00-00)
  14. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
  15. ? Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-37216-2 (1981-00-00)
  16. ? 16.016.1 Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
  17. ? 17.017.1 Mills. S. Y. The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism. ()
  18. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
  19. ? 19.019.1 Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America. Houghton Mifflin Co. ISBN 0395467225 (1990-00-00)
  20. ? Weiner. M. A. Earth Medicine, Earth Food. Ballantine Books ISBN 0-449-90589-6 (1980-00-00)
  21. ? 21.021.1 F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
  22. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
  23. ? Beckett. G. and K. Planting Native Trees and Shrubs. Jarrold (1979-00-00)
  24. ? Carter D. Butterflies and Moths in Britain and Europe. Pan ISBN 0-330-26642-x (1982-00-00)
  25. ? Baines. C. Making a Wildlife Garden. ()
  26. ? Thomas. G. S. Ornamental Shrubs, Climbers and Bamboos. Murray ISBN 0-7195-5043-2 (1992-00-00)
  27. ? Warren-Wren. S. C. Willows. David and Charles (1972-00-00)
  28. ? ? Encyclopaedia Britannica. 15th edition. ()
  29. ? Clapham, Tootin and Warburg. Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press (1962-00-00)

"image:Thomé_Salix_alba_clean.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

Facts about "Salix alba"RDF feed
Article is incompleteYes +
Article requires citationsNo +
Article requires cleanupYes +
Belongs to familySalicaceae +
Belongs to genusSalix +
Functions asPioneer + and Windbreak +
Has binomial nameSalix alba +
Has common nameWhite Willow +
Has drought toleranceIntolerant +
Has edible partInner bark +, Leaves + and Unknown part +
Has edible useUnknown use + and Tea +
Has environmental toleranceMaritime exposure + and High wind +
Has fertility typeSelf sterile + and Bees +
Has flowers of typeDioecious +
Has growth rateVigorous +
Has hardiness zone2 +
Has imageThomé Salix alba clean.jpg +
Has lifecycle typePerennial +
Has material partUnknown part +
Has material useBasketry +, Charcoal +, Paper +, String + and Wood +
Has mature height25 +
Has mature width10 +
Has medicinal partUnknown part +
Has medicinal useAnodyne +, Antiinflammatory +, Antiperiodic +, Antiseptic +, Astringent +, Diaphoretic +, Diuretic +, Febrifuge +, Hypnotic +, Sedative + and Tonic +
Has primary imageThomé_Salix_alba_clean.jpg +
Has search namesalix alba + and white willow +
Has shade toleranceNo shade +
Has soil ph preferenceAcid + and Neutral +
Has soil texture preferenceSandy +, Loamy +, Clay + and Heavy clay +
Has sun preferenceFull sun +
Has taxonomic rankSpecies +
Has taxonomy nameSalix alba +
Has water requirementshigh +
Inhabits ecosystem nicheCanopy +
Is deciduous or evergreenDeciduous +
Is herbaceous or woodyWoody +
Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
PFAF cultivation notes migratedNo +
PFAF edible use notes migratedNo +
PFAF material use notes migratedNo +
PFAF medicinal use notes migratedNo +
PFAF propagation notes migratedNo +
PFAF toxicity notes migratedYes +
Tolerates maritime exposureYes +
Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
Tolerates windYes +
Uses mature size measurement unitMeters +
Has subobjectThis property is a special property in this wiki.Salix alba +, Salix alba +, Salix alba +, Salix alba +, Salix alba +, Salix alba +, Salix alba +, Salix alba +, Salix alba +, Salix alba +, Salix alba +, Salix alba +, Salix alba +, Salix alba +, Salix alba +, Salix alba +, Salix alba +, Salix alba + and Salix alba +