Herb: Beak Willow


Latin name: Salix bebbiana


Synonyms: Salix depressa rostrata, Salix livida rostrata, Salix rostrata


Family: Salicaceae (Willow Family)



Medicinal use of Beak Willow:

A poultice of the chewed root inner bark has been applied to a deep cut. The shredded inner bark has been used as sanitary napkins to "heal a woman's insides". A poultice of the damp inner bark has been applied to the skin over a broken bone. A decoction of the branches has been taken by women for several months after childbirth to increase the blood flow. A poultice of the bark and sap has been applied as a wad to bleeding wounds. The fresh bark of all members of this genus contains salicin, which probably decomposes into salicylic acid (closely related to aspirin) in the human body. This is used as an anodyne and febrifuge.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Deciduous
Shrub

Height:
7 m
(23 feet)

Flovering:
May

Habitat of the herb:

Moist rich soils along streams, lakes and swamps, but also forming dense thickets in open meadows. Found at elevations up to 3000 metres.

Other uses of Beak Willow:

A pioneer species, readily invading any cleared-out area if there is sufficient moisture. It is short-lived and not very shade tolerant and so, having provided good conditions for other woodland trees to become established, it is eventually out-competed by them. The pliable stems are used in basket making. 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 bark has been twisted into cord and made into strong rope, bags and dresses. The bark has been used for sewing birch bark onto basket frames. The wood often has diamond-shaped depressions on the bark caused by a fungus. This wood is considered to be very ornamental and is carved into canes, lamp posts and furniture. The wood has also been used to make baseball bats and to make charcoal.

Propagation of the herb:

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.

Cultivation of Beak Willow:

Moist rich soils along streams, lakes and swamps, but also forming dense thickets in open meadows. Found at elevations up to 3000 metres.

Known hazards of Salix bebbiana:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.