Salix viminalis

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Salix viminalis
Common osier foliage
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Salicaceae
Genus: Salix
S. viminalis
Binomial name
Salix viminalis

Salix viminalis, the basket willow,[2] common osier or osier, is a species of willow native to Europe, Western Asia, and the Himalayas.[3][4][5]


Salix viminalis is a multistemmed shrub growing to between 3 and 6 m (9.8 and 19.7 ft) (rarely to 10 m (33 ft)) tall. It has long, erect, straight branches with greenish-grey bark. The leaves long and slender, 10–25 cm long but only 0.5–2 cm broad; they are dark green above, with a silky grey-haired underside. The flowers are catkins, produced in early spring before the leaves; they are dioecious, with male and female catkins on separate plants. The male catkins are yellow and oval-shaped; the female catkins are longer and more cylindrical; they mature in early summer when the fruit capsules split open to release the numerous minute seeds.[3][4]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

It is commonly found by streams and other wet places. The exact native range is uncertain due to extensive historical cultivation; it is certainly native from central Europe east to western Asia, but may also be native as far west as southeastern England. As a cultivated or naturalised plant, it is widespread throughout both Britain and Ireland, but only at lower altitudes. It is one of the least variable willows, but it will hybridise with several other species.[3][4]


Along with other related willows, the flexible twigs (called withies) are commonly used in basketry, giving rise to its alternative common name of "basket willow". Cultivation and use of the common osier was common in England in the 18th and 19th century, with osier beds lining many rivers and streams. In the Chilean village of Chimbarongo, it is used to fashion their renowned baskets.

Another increasing use is in energy forestry,[3] effluent treatment, in wastewater gardens,[6] and in cadmium phytoremediation for water purification.[5]

Salix viminalis is a known hyperaccumulator of cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, petroleum hydrocarbons, organic solvents, MTBE, TCE and byproducts, selenium, silver, uranium, and zinc,[7][8] and as such is a prime candidate for phytoremediation. For more information, see the list of hyperaccumulators.


Among the most common pathogens on S. viminalis are Melampsora spp. Female plants are more severely infected than male plants.[9][10]


  1. ^ "Common Osier Willow, Salix viminalis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2017: e.T61960656A61960676. 2017. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-3.RLTS.T61960656A61960676.en. Retrieved 1 March 2022.
  2. ^ USDA, NRCS (n.d.). "Salix viminalis". The PLANTS Database ( Greensboro, North Carolina: National Plant Data Team. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d Meikle, R. D. (1984). Willows and Poplars of Great Britain and Ireland. BSBI Handbook No. 4. ISBN 0-901158-07-0.
  4. ^ a b c Rushforth, K. (1999). Trees of Britain and Europe. Collins ISBN 0-00-220013-9.
  5. ^ a b Perttu, K. L. and Kowalik, P. J. (1997). Salix vegetation filters for purification of waters and soils. Biomass and Bioenergy, Volume 12, Issue 1, 1997, Pages 9-19. Elsevier Science Ltd.
  6. ^ "Wastewater Gardens® - Biosphere Foundation". Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  7. ^ Phytoremediation. By McCutcheon & Schnoor. 2003, New Jersey, John Wiley & Sons, page 19.
  8. ^ Enhancing Phytoextraction: The Effect of Chemical Soil Manipulation on Mobility, Plant Accumulation, and Leaching of Heavy Metals. Archived 2007-02-25 at the Wayback Machine By Ulrich Schmidt. In J. Environ. Qual. 32:1939-1954 (2003)
  9. ^ Moritz, Kim K.; Björkman, Christer; Parachnowitsch, Amy L.; Stenberg, Johan A. (2016-02-01). "Female Salix viminalis are more severely infected by Melampsora spp. but neither sex experiences associational effects". Ecology and Evolution. 6 (4): 1154–1162. doi:10.1002/ece3.1923. ISSN 2045-7758. PMC 4725332. PMID 26839685.
  10. ^ Åhman, Inger (1997). "Growth, herbivory and disease in relation to gender in Salix viminalis L.". Oecologia. 111 (1): 61–68. Bibcode:1997Oecol.111...61A. doi:10.1007/s004420050208. ISSN 0029-8549. PMID 28307506. S2CID 2962435.

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