News & Press: Research Updates

New Comprehensive Listing of Willow Cultivars

Monday, June 13, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jim Calkins

With the exception of quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) in parts of the Mountain West, where it is revered and commonly planted in urban areas where it often isn’t very happy and tends to be short-lived, much like paper birch (Betula papyrifera; Betulaceae – Birch Family) in the Upper Midwest, the Salicaceae (Willow Family), which includes the willows, poplars, aspens, and cottonwoods (and other genera), are a group of plants people tend to love to hate. The current bias against this environmentally and culturally significant group of plants that have been important to humans for thousands of years is variously, but questionably, based on a variety of perceived concerns including disease and insect problems, weak wood that can be susceptible to breakage in storms, short lifespans, and a lack of showy landscape characteristics. In addition, some species have a suckering habit and some are considered messy (dropped leaves, twigs, flowers, fruits, and seeds; including, of course, the “cotton” associated with female cottonwood trees, but also variously produced by all members of the Salicaceae). In reality, many of these concerns are overblown and, in many cases, apply equally to other, more popular, species where these drawbacks tend to be accepted or overlooked. Phytobigotry aside, the bias against this important group of plants may be changing as the value of these plants is increasingly recognized and understood.New, comprehensive listing of willow cultivars may be of interest to plant breeders and others with an interest in the genus Salix.  Read full article.



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