Herb: Violet Willow

Latin name: Salix daphnoides

Family: Salicaceae (Willow Family)

Medicinal use of Violet Willow:

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:


10 m
(33 feet)

to March

Habitat of the herb:

Moist soils.

Edible parts of Violet Willow:

Inner bark - raw or cooked. It can be dried, ground into a powder and then added to cereal flour for use in making bread etc. A very bitter flavour, it is a famine food that is only used when all else fails. Young shoots - raw or cooked. They are not very palatable. Rich in vitamin C. Young catkin-bearing shoots - raw or cooked. The growing tips of underground rhizomes are peeled and eaten.

Other uses of the herb:

The stems are very flexible and are used in basket making or for making wattle and daub walls. 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. Trees are fast growing and tolerate maritime exposure so can be grown as a shelterbelt. Plants have extensive root systems and are often used to stabilize sand dunes. Wood - soft, even grained, smooth. Used for construction, pales, tubs etc.

Propagation of Violet Willow:

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 the herb:

Moist soils.

Known hazards of Salix daphnoides:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.