Reproduction of the bay willow
The bay willow (Salix pentandra L.) is a plant native to northern Europe and northern Asia.
Suitable breeding habitat –
Salix pentandra is a plant that grows naturally in Northern Europe and Northern Asia. In Europe it is found in the north up to the latitude of the British Isles and even a little further north and is sometimes planted as an ornamental tree.
In detail, its distribution ranges from Norway to the United Kingdom and Spain, east through Russia and the Balkans to western Siberia, Mongolia, western and northern China
In southern Europe it also grows in the latitude of Italy where it is present in various northern and central regions, but often confused with other related species.
Elsewhere it has naturalized in northern North America.
Its habitat is that of streambeds and in humid environments on peaty soils, with optimum in the montane belt up to 2,500 metres.
Salix pentandra is a deciduous shrub or tree with a spreading crown that can grow in shrub form up to 3 – 5 meters or in tree form up to 15 – 18 meters in height.
It is cultivated in Europe and in Siberia mainly for the stabilization of riverbanks and, occasionally, as windbreak on the coasts, for ornamentation, as street tree and for the production of wood.
It is a very cold hardy plant, able to tolerate temperatures down to around -25°C when fully dormant.
This plant must be grown in a spacious area and suffers from the aridity of the soils and calcareous soils.
Propagation can be by seed. Willow seed is very small and light, and has a very short life span, even a few days. For this reason it must be sown on the surface as soon as it is ripe. It should be sown in a nursery in a moderately sunny position, keeping the soil moist. Germination is usually quite rapid. Once formed, the seedlings must be placed in single pots and grown to the size of being able to be transplanted; in any case, in order not to disturb the roots excessively, it is advisable to carry out the transplant as soon as possible, in fact they take root better while they are rather small.
Propagation can also take place asexually.
In this case, cuttings of mature wood of the current year are taken; those of more mature wood can root at almost any time of the year, although late autumn is considered best as it produces a better balance of root and stem growth the following spring.
The cuttings must be taken and planted in a sheltered outdoor nursery or directly in the open field taking care, in this case, to mulch the soil to protect the plants from the cold and from weeds.
Semi-mature wood cuttings can also be prepared, in early to mid summer in a shady nursery.
Salix pentandra takes its scientific name from the male flowers with five stamens.
It is a plant whose glossy leaves make it more decorative than many other willows, which is why it is often planted as an ornamental tree.
As in all willows, the bark and leaves contain the glycoside salicin, which makes them toxic to many animals, and from which salicylic acid is obtained.
The foliage of the plant is a food for the larvae of various species of moth, including Ectoedemia intimella whose larvae extract the leaves. The catkins are attractive to bees and other insects for the nectar and pollen they produce early in the year. This willow is susceptible to watermark disease, which causes dead branches, and is caused by the pathogenic bacterium Brenneria salicis.
The flowering period is between May and June.
As far as its ecological status is concerned, it is a plant that is not subject to any major threats. There are no population estimates for this species throughout its range, but it is likely to be large due to its wide distribution. The plant is classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (2013).