Latin name: Salix viminalis
Family: Salicaceae (Willow Family)
Medicinal use of Osier:Antirheumatic, febrifuge. 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:
Habitat of the herb:By rivers and streams, also on deep moist alluvial soils, avoiding very acid soils.
Edible parts of Osier: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 - cooked. Not very palatable.
Other uses of the herb:The 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 annual yield can be around 12 tonnes per hectare, 40% of which is class 1. The bark contains about 10% tannin. Often planted along the banks of rivers and lakes to prevent soil erosion.
Propagation of Osier: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:By rivers and streams, also on deep moist alluvial soils, avoiding very acid soils.
Known hazards of Salix viminalis:None known
Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.