Herb: Creeping Willow

Latin name: Salix repens

Family: Salicaceae (Willow Family)

Medicinal use of Creeping 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:


100 cm
(3 1/4 foot)

to May

Habitat of the herb:

Wet heaths and moorlands.

Edible parts of Creeping 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.

Other uses of the herb:

An admirable ground cover plant. The plants extensive root system also makes it a good soil stabilizer on sand dunes. The sub-species S. repens argentea is the form best used for this. The plant is also used for stabilizing old waste tips and slag heaps. The bark contains about 10% tannin.

Propagation of Creeping 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. Division of suckers.

Cultivation of the herb:

Wet heaths and moorlands.

Known hazards of Salix repens:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.