The dramatic beauty of a mature weeping willow tree provides a marvelous focal point for any landscape. The graceful falling habit of its branches forms a shade canopy that can reach the ground, creating an outdoor living room as much as 40 feet across. For families with children, the willow’s branching habit also makes it a perfect climbing tree, with big forks and a stout trunk.
They are tolerant to a wide variety of soils pHs, and these gorgeous and surprisingly useful trees are at home almost anywhere in the continental US. With minimal care, lots of space, and full sun, they will reproduce, often six to eight feet per year.
Their reddish-brown bark contains salicin, a natural alternative to aspirin, and willow extract was used for centuries to treat headaches and other mild pain. Today, however, willows are more often used to treat boggy areas in residential landscaping, as well as low areas prone to flooding, and eroding riverbanks. Weeping willows thrive near water and tolerate salt.
The leaves are deep green, long and slender with a silvery-green back. Catkins appear in late spring. In the fall, the leaves turn late in the season, becoming a bright gold or green-yellow before falling. The delicate silhouette of a weeping willow in winter is as lovely as the tree in full summer. Its slender branches have been used by people for centuries in a wide range of arts and crafts, including baskets, paintbrushes, and dyes for leather.
Fans of William Shakespeare or Harry Potter will find the tree especially appealing, as the weeping willow makes star appearances in both collections. With mythical connections stretching back centuries, the weeping willow has well earned its place as a favorite.