The plants are very fast growing, capable of reaching a height of 3 metres in their first year from cuttings. They are also very tolerant of maritime exposure and make an excellent shelterbelt, though the plants are rather bare in winter and do not offer so much wind protection at this time[K]. In order to make an effective shelter, it is best to encourage plenty of side branches by cutting the plants back almost to ground level after their first year's growth[K]. Also cutting them back to about 1 metre tall after their second year of growth will provide an even better framework of branches[K].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]. One strong advantage is that the plant is a male clone and so will not spread itself about where it is not wanted[K].
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. Branches of older wood up to 2.5m long can be used.Cuttings of half-ripe wood, June to August in a frame. Very easy.
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A very fast growing plant, capable of making new shoots up to 5 metres long in one growing season, especially if the plants are coppiced[K]. Trees respond badly to transplanting unless they are moved regularly. The root system is rather aggressive and can cause problems with drains and the foundations of buildings. This is especially prevalent on clay soils. It is best not to plant trees within 12 metres of buildings. Although the plant produces catkins and is wind pollinated, the flowers are also a good source of nectar. This makes them a very important food plant for many species of caterpillars and a good bee plant, providing an early source of nectar and pollen. Dioecious, but only the male form is known.Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus.
Problems, pests & diseases
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