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.