Crack Willow Brittle Willow
=Habitat and Range.=--In low land and along river banks. Indigenous in
southwestern Asia, and in Europe where it is extensively cultivated;
introduced into America probably from England for use in basket-making,
and planted at a very early date in many of the colonial towns; now
extensively cultivated, and often spontaneous in wet places and along
river banks, throughout New England and as far south as Delaware.
=Habit.=--Tree often of great size; attaining a maximum height of 60-90
feet; head open, wide-spreading; branches except the lowest rising at a
broad angle; branchlets reddish or yellowish green, smooth and polished,
very brittle at the base. In 1890 there was standing upon the Groome
estate, Humphreys Street, Dorchester, Mass., a willow of this species
about 60 feet high, 28 feet 2 inches in girth five feet from the ground,
with a spread of 110 feet (Typical Elms and other Trees of
Massachusetts, p. 85).
=Bark.=--Bark of the trunk gray, smooth in young trees, in old trees
very rough, irregularly ridged, sometimes cleaving off in large plates.
=Winter Buds and Leaves.=--Buds about 1/3 inch long, reddish-brown,
narrow-conical. Leaves simple, alternate, 2-6 inches long, smooth, dark
green and shining above, pale or glaucous beneath and somewhat pubescent
when young; outline lanceolate, glandular-serrate; apex long-acuminate;
tapering to an acute or obtuse base; leafstalk short, glandular at the
top; stipules half-cordate when present, soon falling.
=Inflorescence.=--April to May. Catkins appearing with the leaves,
spreading, stalked,--sterile 1-2 inches long; stamens 2-4, usually 2;
filaments distinct, pubescent below; ovary abortive: fertile catkins
slender; stigma nearly sessile; capsule long-conical, smooth,
=Horticultural Value.=--Hardy throughout New England; grows best near
streams, but adapts itself readily to all rich, damp soils. A handsome
ornamental tree when planted where its roots can find water, and its
branches space for free development. Readily propagated from slips.
SALIX ALBA, L.