Herb: Dune Willow


Latin name: Salix hookeriana


Family: Salicaceae (Willow Family)



Medicinal use of Dune Willow:

The leaves have been used as an antidote to shellfish poisoning. 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:
100 cm
(3 1/4 foot)

Flovering:
April
to May

Habitat of the herb:

Borders of salt marshes and ponds, also on sandy coastal dunes. Streams, ponds and sloughs near the shore.

Edible parts of Dune 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. The leaves have been used as a flavouring in cooked foods.

Other uses of the herb:

Stems are very flexible and 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 used extensively in basket making. Fibres from the inner bark can be twisted into long ropes. The soft roots have been used as a towel to rub down after bathing. An infusion of the roots has been used as a hair wash. Wood - light, soft, close grained.

Propagation of Dune 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:

Borders of salt marshes and ponds, also on sandy coastal dunes. Streams, ponds and sloughs near the shore.

Known hazards of Salix hookeriana:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.