Friday, March 05, 2010
The Willow Tree
The Willow Tree
Besides an Apple tree I must say that I love Weeping Willow trees. Something about how they sway in the breeze and look a bit witchy/gothic. That inspires that part of me that wants to write and be poetic at times. Oh to be blessed with having one of these trees in my own backyard on a sunny day, just sitting near it would inspire the imagination. Alas I do not have a Willow currently in my yard and don't think I have the space needed for such a tree. I find that I don't see many around lately and when you do see one you have to take in the view and beauty of it.
I do however have an ornamental Apple tree and can't wait to see it blossom this Spring.
The Willow is the tree most associated with the moon, water, the Goddess and all that is feminine. It is the tree of dreaming, intuition and deep emotions. Symbolically it belongs to the beginning of spring, when all of life is stirring in the depths and begins to shoot outwards once again. In the ogham alphabet, the willow is Saille which became anglicised to "sally" which means a sudden outburst of emotions, action or expression (to "sally forth"). The Old French "saille" also means to rush out suddenly and the Latin "salire" means to leap. This is the underlying energy of the willow, and the key to understanding the powerful spirit of this beautiful tree.
Willow Tree Symbolism:
Willow tree meanings includes magic, healing, inner vision and dreams. The leaves and bark of the willow tree have been mentioned in ancient texts from Assyria, Sumer and Egypt as a remedy for aches and fever. Native Americans across the continent relied on it as a staple of their medical treatments. This is because they contain acetylsalicylic acid, also known as aspirin. The willow grows in hardiness zones 2-9.
The willow is a famous subject in many East Asian nations' cultures, and the image has been employed in a variety of Korean poetry. The willow was also part of mourning pieces created in the 19th century (and earlier) by women to commemorate the death of a loved one. These pieces always included one or more mourners in dark dresses bent over a burial vault, tombstone or urn with a willow tree--a symbol of death, tears, mourning, and reflection. Perhaps this is the origin of the term "weeping willow".
Willows, sallows, and osiers form the genus Salix, around 400 species of deciduous trees and shrubs, found primarily on moist soils in cold and temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Most species are known as willow, but some narrow-leaved shrub species are called osier, and some broader-leaved species are referred to as sallow (derived from the Latin word salix, willow). Some willows (particularly arctic and alpine species) are low-growing or creeping shrubs; for example the Dwarf Willow (Salix herbacea) rarely exceeds 6 cm (2 in) in height, though spreading widely across the ground.
Willows are very cross-fertile, and numerous hybrids occur, both naturally and in cultivation. A well-known ornamental example is the Weeping Willow (Salix × sepulcralis), which is a hybrid of Peking Willow (Salix babylonica) from China and White Willow (Salix alba) from Europe.
Willows all have abundant watery bark, sap which is heavily charged with salicylic acid, soft, usually pliant, tough wood, slender branches, and large, fibrous, often stoloniferous roots. The roots are remarkable for their toughness, size, and tenacity to life, and roots readily grow from aerial parts of the plant.
The leaves are typically elongated but may also be round to oval, frequently with a serrated margin. Most species are deciduous; semi-evergreen willows with coriaceous leaves are rare, e.g. Salix micans and S. australior in the eastern Mediterranean. All the buds are lateral; no absolutely terminal bud is ever formed. The buds are covered by a single scale, enclosing at its base two minute opposite buds, alternately arranged, with two small, opposite, scale-like leaves. This first pair soon fall, and the later leaves are alternately arranged. The leaves are simple, feather-veined, and typically linear-lanceolate. Usually they are serrate, rounded at base, acute or acuminate. The leaf petioles are short, the stipules often very conspicuous, looking like tiny round leaves and sometimes remaining for half the summer. On some species, however, they are small, inconspicuous, and fugacious (soon falling). In color the leaves show a great variety of greens, ranging from yellowish to bluish.
Willows are dioecious with male and female flowers appearing as catkins on different plants; the catkins are produced early in the spring, often before the leaves, or as the new leaves open.
The staminate (male) flowers are without either calyx or corolla; they consist simply of stamens, varying in number from two to ten, accompanied by a nectariferous gland and inserted on the base of a scale which is itself borne on the rachis of a drooping raceme called a catkin, or ament. This scale is oval and entire and very hairy. The anthers are rose colored in the bud but orange or purple after the flower opens, they are two-celled and the cells open longitudinally. The filaments are threadlike, usually pale yellow, and often hairy.
The pistillate (female) flowers are also without calyx or corolla; and consist of a single ovary accompanied by a small flat nectar gland and inserted on the base of a scale which is likewise borne on the rachis of a catkin. The ovary is one-celled, the style two-lobed, and the ovules numerous.
Open capsules of Salix cinerea with seeds and hairsThe fruit is a small, one-celled, two-valved, cylindrical beaked capsule containing numerous tiny (0.1 mm) seeds. The seeds are furnished with long, silky, white hairs, which allow the fruit to be widely dispersed by the wind.
Almost all willows take root very readily from cuttings or where broken branches lie on the ground. There are a few exceptions, including the Goat Willow (Salix caprea) and Peachleaf Willow (Salix amygdaloides). One famous example of such growth from cuttings involves the poet Alexander Pope, who begged a twig from a parcel tied with twigs sent from Spain to Lady Suffolk. This twig was planted and thrived, and legend has it that all of England's weeping willows are descended from this first one.
Willows are often planted on the borders of streams so that their interlacing roots may protect the bank against the action of the water. Frequently the roots are much larger than the stem which grows from them.
Poems inspired by Willow trees:
Weeping Willow Tree
by Monika Arnett
Friday, June 28, 2002
In the midst of an enchanted, crystal forest
lies my soul,
beneath a weeping willow
On the shadowed side of this
heart beats as thunder warns of a
Yesterday went well in deeds, but
fell upon me...
words could not express these
I closed my eyes to shut the doors of reality.
Must you always need to understand me;
shan't I keep a bit of mystery for my sake?
These eyes plead,
as I look up to you
for such moments of
peace and tranquility.
Tears have fallen to the earth--
drops that glisten on blades of grass,
even in the dark of night;
stars shine brighter in my sight!
Today, I remember sharing my life
Vows of love and friendship, forever
I lie alone beneath a
weeping willow tree.
Tommorrow, I shall walk alongside a
c.2003 by Monika Arnett
The Willow Tree
I am a Willow Tree, that sways gently in the wind
I am a Willow Tree, who has no limits.
I am a Willow Tree, who has long and beautiful branches
I am a Willow Tree, who provides shade and comfort.
I am a Willow Tree, who can be placed anywhere
I am a Willow Tree, I whisper in the wind.
I am a Willow Tree, you think I'm very free
I am a Willow Tree, don't ever want to be me.