The bark can be used for tying plants. A fibre obtained from the stems is used in making paper. 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. A fast growing tree and tolerant of maritime exposure, it can be grown as a shelterbelt. 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. The wood is also used to make charcoal, which has medicinal uses.
The bark is anodyne, anti-inflammatory, antiperiodic, antiseptic, astringent, diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge, hypnotic, sedative and tonic. It has been used internally in the treatment of dyspepsia connected with debility of the digestive organs, rheumatism, arthritis, gout, inflammatory stages of auto-immune diseases, feverish illnesses, neuralgia and headache. Its tonic and astringent properties render it useful in convalescence from acute diseases, in treating worms, chronic dysentery and diarrhoea. The fresh bark is very bitter and astringent. It contains salicin, which probably decomposes into salicylic acid (closely related to aspirin) in the human body. This is used as an anodyne and febrifuge. The bark is harvested in the spring or early autumn from 3 - 6 year old branches and is dried for later use.The leaves are used internally in the treatment of minor feverish illnesses and colic. An infusion of the leaves has a calming effect and is helpful in the treatment of nervous insomnia. When added to the bath water, the infusion is of real benefit in relieving widespread rheumatism. The leaves can be harvested throughout the growing season and are used fresh or dried.
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. Very easy. Plant into their permanent positions in the autumn.Cuttings of half-ripe wood, June to August in a frame. Very easy.
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Trees respond well to coppicing or pollarding. 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. A very important food plant for the caterpillars of many species of butterflies and a good bee plant, providing an early source of nectar and pollen. A very good wildlife habitat, more than 200 species of insects are associated with this tree. There are many sub-species and cultivars in this species. S. alba caerulea is the cricket bat willow, cultivated for its wood. S. alba vitellina. (L.)Stokes. has been cultivated for its very tough stems that are used as tie rods in basket making. The cultivar 'Cardinal' is also grown for its use in basket making. This species is used commercially in papermaking. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus, especially S. fragilis, to which it is closely related. Trees cast a relatively light shade.Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.
Problems, pests & diseases
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