BLACK WILLOW
File Size: 66 KB
 
Salix nigra  Marsh.
Geary County, Kansas
Height: 16-65 feet
Family: Salicaceae - Willow Family
Flowering Period:   April
Trunks: Short, often leaning rather than erect; diameter 20 to 40 inches; crown broad, open, irregular; branches spreading; bark on trunks grayish-brown to nearly black, thick, deeply furrowed; ridges broad, flat, often loose and shaggy.
Twigs: Slender, flexible, brittle at base, glabrous or pubescent, reddish-brown to yellowish-brown, becoming gray; leaf scars narrowly crescent-shaped; bundle scars 3; terminal bud absent; lateral buds narrowly conical, 1/8 inch long, pointed; scale 1, reddish-brown, shiny.
Leaves: Alternate, simple, deciduous, linear-lanceolate to lanceolate, 2 to 5.2 inches long, 2/5 to 4/5 inch wide, thin; upper surface yellowish-green, slightly glossy; lower surface similar, initially pubescent, becoming glabrous when mature; margin finely toothed; tip long-tapering to point, often curved; base rounded to wedge-shaped; stalk 1/5 to 2/5 inch long, mostly glabrous; stipules leaf-like, ovate to lanceolate, deciduous or sometimes persistent on vigorous shoots.
Flowers: With the leaves or as the leaves unfold; dioecious (male and female flowers on separate trees); staminate catkins 1.4 to 3 inches long, 1/3 to 1/2 inch wide, near ends of leafy shoots; flowers tiny, sessile, somewhat in whorls, yellowish-green; calyx absent; petals absent; scales yellow, pubescent; stamens 3-6; filaments stout, green; anthers yellow; pistillate catkins 1.6 to 3 inches long, 1/5 to 2/5 inch wide, axis pubescent; calyx absent; petals absent; scales yellow, pubescent; ovary egg-shaped with tapering neck, 1/10 inch long, green; stigma 2-lobed.
Fruit: June; in drooping catkins; stalk 1/16 inch long; capsule, egg-shaped with tapering, conical neck, 1/8 to 1/5 inch long, light brown; seeds tiny, cylindric, greenish, tuft of silky white hairs at base.
Habitat: Stream banks, pond and lake edges, flood plains, roadside ditches; prefers moist areas, but sometimes found in drier soil; rich loam, sandy, or rocky soils.
Distribution: All but northwest corner of Kansas
Origin: Native
Uses: Native Americans chewed the root for hoarseness and steeped the bark to make a liquid taken for fevers and headaches. The liquid was also used as a wash believed to help hair grow. The leaves were crushed and placed on bruises. The twigs were used in basket weaving and the wood used to make furniture, crates, barrels, toys, and doors. During the American Revolution, willows were burned the the charcoal used as an ingredient in gunpowder. Deer and rabbits browse on the twigs and bark.
Comments: There are several varieties of black willow. It is a fast growing, short-lived tree. Black willow is used to help prevent soil erosion along streams and in ravines. The wood is lightweight, soft, weak, not durable, light reddish-brown, with a thin, whitish sapwood.

Black willow staminate catkins
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Black willow flowering
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