About two hundred species of trees and shrubs belong to the salix genus, often difficult to recognize one from the other, given also the ease with which they hybridize with each other. The white willow is a short-lived, fast-growing, but not very long-lived tree, which reaches 15-20 meters in height, with a trunk with a maximum diameter of 50-60 cm; It is native to southern and central Europe, northern Africa and Asia. It has an enlarged crown, with often arched and hanging branches; the bark is dark gray, with deep fissures; the leaves are silver-gray, long and thin, with a slight down on the lower page. In March the flowers appear, at the same time as the leaves, the male ones are yellowish catkins, the female ones are smaller and greenish. In June the fruits ripen, seed capsules that are scattered by the wind with a white down called pappus.
Salix alba trees, in general, love sunny positions, but they develop without problems even in partial shade. They do not like mountainous terrain, preferring the plains and the coasts. The white willow it does not tolerate harsh climates, preferring the temperate Mediterranean climate.
This tree is usually cultivated up to 1200 meters in height, as at higher altitudes the cold temperatures compromise its health; this kind of plants, in fact, tolerates temperatures up to -2 ° C without any particular suffering.
The white willow it adapts without any problem to any type of soil, certainly preferring calcareous soils to those with a strongly acid ph. This type of plant needs large amounts of water, in fact it can often be found along rivers or lakes; it prefers soils saturated with water, or that are periodically flooded.
If the salix alba It is grown in the garden and it is necessary to supply large quantities of water, which allow its optimal development and maintain the correct humidity for the root system.
The multiplication of salix alba occurs by seed or cuttings. Compost for seedlings and for rooting cuttings consists of a mixture of peat and sand in equal parts; always keep the substratum moist, paying attention to mold and fungus. once the new plants have reached the correct degree of robustness, it is possible to transplant them to the ground.
Parasites and diseases
Salix alba plants generally fear the attack by various types of beetles, whose larvae feed on the soft wood of both young and adult plants. In the presence of signs that indicate the attack, it is necessary to intervene promptly with the use of specific products that effectively counteract the effects.
Willow - White Willow - Salix Alba: Other species of willow
S. babylonica, the well-known weeping white willow, present in many Italian gardens, but originally from Asia.
S. viminalis: as the name implies, this type of tree is pollarded and the thin and flexible branches are used to produce wicker for the baskets.
We also remember S. pentandra, or scented willow and S. caprea, or salicone.
They are all varieties that can decorate garden corners or river banks with style, thanks to their characteristic posture.