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It is a medium-sized deciduous tree, the largest North American species of willow, growing to 10-30 m tall, exceptionally up to 45 m, with a trunk 50–80 cm diameter. The bark is dark brown to blackish, becoming fissured in older trees. The shoots are slender, variable in color from green to brown, yellow or purplish; they are (like the related European Salix fragilis) brittle at the base, snapping evenly at the branch junction if bent sharply. The foliage buds are small, 2–4 mm long, with a single pointed reddish-brown bud scale. The leaves are alternate, long, thin, 5-15 cm long and 0.5-2 cm broad, usually somewhat falcate, dark, shiny green on both sides or with a lighter green underside, with a finely serrated margin, a short petiole and a pair of small stipules. It is dioecious, with small, green flowers borne on catkins 2.5-7.5 cm long in early spring at the same time as the new leaves appear. The fruit is a 5 mm capsule which splits open when mature to release the numerous minute, down-covered seeds. It is typically found along streams and in swamps.
Salix gooddingii (Goodding's Willow) is sometimes included in S. nigra as a variety, as S. nigra var. vallicola Dudley; when included, this extends the species' range to western North America. However, the two are usually treated as distinct species.
Black Willow roots are very bitter, and have been used as a substitute for quinine in the past. The Great Lakes Ojibwa used the young branches and twigs to make baskets and other parts were used to treat indigestion.
Another name occasionally used for Black Willow is "swamp willow", not to be confused with Salix myrtilloides (Swamp Willow).
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Salix_nigra". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|