An Eco-sustainable World
Practical GuidesTechniques

Reproduction of the common sallow

Reproduction of the common sallow

The common sallow or grey sallow, grey willow, grey-leaved sallow, large grey willow, pussy willow, rusty sallow (Salix cinerea L., 1753) is a tree of the Salicaceae family native to Europe and western Asia

Suitable breeding habitat –
Salix cinerea is a species, within which there are two subspecies, which grows over a large area of Eurasia: from Norway to Spain, from east to western Siberia. Kazakhstan and Türkiye.
The two subspecies are:
– Salix cinerea subsp. cinerea, present in central and eastern Europe and western Asia;
– Salix cinerea subsp. oleifolia (Sm.) Macreight, present in western Europe, north-western Africa.
The ranges of the two subspecies have some overlap in distributions, both in a broad north-south belt across France and in scattered specimens of S. c. cinerea west to Ireland, western France, and Morocco; scattered specimens of S. c. oleifolia are found east of the Netherlands. Specimens of S. c. oleifolia are also found in southern Scandinavia, planted or naturalized, non-native.
Their habitat is that of the wetlands where the two subspecies differ slightly in their needs; the S. c. cinerea is generally restricted to more swampy habitats while S. c. oleifolia is less demanding and is found in both alkaline and acid marshes and along streams.

Propagation –
Salix cinerea is a deciduous shrub that is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and source of materials.
It is also grown on landfills, old slag heaps etc. to stabilize the soil and prevent erosion, it is a useful species for pioneering the restoration of native woodland and is also sometimes grown as an ornamental plant.
For its cultivation, bear in mind that it is a very cold-resistant plant, capable of tolerating temperatures down to about -40 °C when it is completely dormant.
However, these are plants that require an open position and hate dry areas.
It is a relatively slow growing plant but extremely hardy when grown in very exposed positions.
The flowers are dioecious, male and female flowers produced on separate plants. If seed is required, at least one plant of each sex should grow in reasonable proximity.
The roots are often vigorous and extensive and may extend some distance from the plant. Several species have been known to cause problems by growing in drains and drainage systems as their roots seek out moisture.
Propagation can be by seed. The seed is very small and light and has a very short viability, perhaps only a few days.
For this reason it must be sown on the surface as soon as it is ripe. In nature the seed germinates only in open areas. In the nursery it is advisable to sow in a tray in a moderately sunny position, keeping the soil moist. Germination is usually quite rapid. Once the seedlings have reached a size that can be handled, they must be placed in individual pots.
The transplant must be done very early before the root system extends too much.
Propagation can also take place by cuttings. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year’s growth, or older, can be taken and rooted at any time of the year, although late autumn is considered best as it produces the best balance of root growth and of the stem in the following spring.
It is advisable to place them in a nursery to root or directly in the open field having, in the latter case, the foresight to mulch the area around the plant to protect the roots from the cold and weeds. The transplant, if rooted in the nursery, should be done in the following autumn.
Finally, remember that cuttings of semi-mature wood can be prepared, from the beginning to the middle of summer in a frame, even if these find it more difficult to root.

Ecology –
Salix cinerea is a plant which, due to its extensive root system, is used to stabilize landfills and old piles of rubble and debris and, moreover, its catkins are a good early source of nectar for bees.
The seeds are very light and therefore can travel a certain distance in the wind so this plant can spread even a considerable distance from its place of origin.
The seedlings will grow rapidly, even in exposed conditions and the plant will provide a good shelter for the establishment of woodland plants; for this reason it can constitute a good pioneer species and, except in the most humid and heath-type soils, it will end up being largely surpassed by the other trees of the woods. Its main disadvantage as a pioneer plant is that it has an extensive root system and is a rather demanding plant in nutrients so it tends to be an obstacle for the growth of other woodland species.
Furthermore, Salix cinerea is an invasive species in some areas of the world. In New Zealand it is listed under the National Pest Plant Accord which means it cannot be sold or distributed. It is also highly invasive in southeastern Australia, with the entire genus listed as a Weed of National Significance. The species was introduced to stop erosion along river banks, but has since caused worse ecological erosion over time by widening and reducing flooded streams.
According to the IUCN Red List Salix cinerea is widespread with stable populations and does not face major threats, so it is classified as “Least Concern” in the Red List of Threatened Species (2013).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *