It is a multistemmed shrub growing to between 3-6 m (rarely to 10 m) tall. It has long, erect, straight branches with greenish-grey bark. The leaves long and slender, 10-25 cm long but only 0.5–2 cm broad; they are dark green above, with a silky grey-haired underside. The flowers are catkins, produced in early spring before the leaves; they are dioecious, with male and female catkins on separate plants. The male catkins are yellow and oval-shaped; the female catkins are longer and more cylindrical; they mature in early summer when the fruit capsules split open to release the numerous minute seeds.
It is commonly found by streams and other wet places. The exact native range is uncertain due to extensive historical cultivation; it is certainly native from central Europe east to western Asia, but may also be native as far west as southeastern England. As a cultivated or naturalised plant, it is widespread throughout both Britain and Ireland, but only at lower altitudes. It is one of the least variable willows, but it will hybridise with several other species.
Along with other related willows, the flexible twigs (called "withies") are commonly used in basketry, giving rise to its alternative common name of "basket willow". In the Chilean village of Chimbarongo, it is used to fashion the renowned baskets. Another increasing use is in energy forestry, effluent treatment, wastewater gardens and water purification.
New environmental science and pollution research from Technical University of Denmark, Department of Environmental Engineering discussed.(Report)
Aug 27, 2010; New investigation results, 'Removal of 4-chlorobenzoic acid from spiked hydroponic solution by willow trees (Salix viminalis are...
Studies from Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Microbiology have provided new data on bioremediation.
Sep 07, 2010; Scientists discuss in 'Degradation of PAH in a creosote-contaminated soil. A comparison between the effects of willows (Salix...