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Edible uses


Inner bark - raw or cooked. It can be dried, ground into a powder and then added to cereal flour for use in making bread etc. A very bitter flavour, it is a famine food that is only used when all else fails[1]. Young shoots - cooked. Not very palatable[1].

Inner bark


Material uses

The stems are very flexible and are used in basket making[2][3][4]. 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 annual yield can be around 12 tonnes per hectare, 40% of which is class 1[5].

The bark contains about 10% tannin[6].

Often planted along the banks of rivers and lakes to prevent soil erosion[7].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Antirheumatic, febrifuge[8]. The fresh bark of all members of this genus contains salicin[9], which probably decomposes into salicylic acid (closely related to aspirin) in the human body[10]. This is used as an anodyne and febrifuge[9].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Earth stabiliser


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. 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 viminalis. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Succeeds in most soils, including wet, ill-drained or intermittently flooded soils[7][2], but prefers a damp, heavy soil in a sunny position[11]. Dislikes heavy shade and dry soils[12]. Rarely thrives on chalk[11]. Tolerates atmospheric pollution[12]. A fast growing tree, it is very wind resistant[K].

Widely cultivated for basket making, there are many named varieties[2][13]. Trees are usually coppiced annually for this purpose, they do not respond so well to pollarding. It should be cut back almost to ground level each year when being grown for basket making since this encourages the production of long flexible shoots[2]. In very good conditions plants can put on 4 metres or more of new growth in a year when treated in this way. A very important food source for the caterpillars of many butterfly species[14], it is also a valuable early pollen source for bees[2][12]. The plants are rich in insect life[12]. Best planted into its permanent position as soon as possible[2]. The root system is rather aggressive and can cause problems with drains[11]. Plants are best not grown within 10 metres of buildings. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus[11].

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


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Salix viminalis. 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 viminalis.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Salix viminalis
Imported References
Edible uses
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
  • Inner bark (Unknown use)
  • Leaves (Unknown use)
Material uses
  • Unknown part (Basketry)
  • Unknown part (Tannin)
Medicinal uses
  • Unknown part (Anodyne)
  • Unknown part (Antirheumatic)
  • Unknown part (Febrifuge)
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
Native Climate Zones
None listed.
Adapted Climate Zones
None listed.
Native Geographical Range
None listed.
Native Environment
None listed.
Ecosystem Niche
None listed.
Root Zone Tendancy
None listed.
Deciduous or Evergreen
Herbaceous or Woody
Life Cycle
Growth Rate
Mature Size
6 x 4 meters
Flower Colour
Flower Type


  1. ? Schofield. J. J. Discovering Wild Plants - Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest. ()
  2. ? Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-00-00)
  3. ? 3.03.1 Wright. D. Complete Book of Baskets and Basketry. David and Charles ISBN 0-7153-7449-4 (1977-00-00)
  4. ? 4.04.1 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
  5. ? 5.05.1 Komarov. V. L. Flora of the USSR. Israel Program for Scientific Translation (1968-00-00)
  6. ? 6.06.1 Rottsieper. E.H.W. Vegetable Tannins The Forestal Land, Timber and Railways Co. Ltd. (1946-00-00)
  7. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
  8. ? 8.08.1 Triska. Dr. Hamlyn Encyclopaedia of Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-33545-3 (1975-00-00)
  9. ? Lauriault. J. Identification Guide to the Trees of Canada Fitzhenry and Whiteside, Ontario. ISBN 0889025649 (1989-00-00)
  10. ? 10.010.1 Weiner. M. A. Earth Medicine, Earth Food. Ballantine Books ISBN 0-449-90589-6 (1980-00-00)
  11. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
  12. ? Beckett. G. and K. Planting Native Trees and Shrubs. Jarrold (1979-00-00)
  13. ? 13.013.1 Clapham, Tootin and Warburg. Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press (1962-00-00)
  14. ? Carter D. Butterflies and Moths in Britain and Europe. Pan ISBN 0-330-26642-x (1982-00-00)