The genus Salix, as recognised in 2019, is comprised of probably more than 300 distinct species (over 500 if you also accept hybrid species). Many of these species are very similar, sometimes being separated as much by native range as by any other characteristic. Hybridization between species is common, when this is coupled with the high genetic and morphological variability within many species, and different levels of ploidy, the complexity of this genus is clear.
Misidentification of specimens is not rare, even amongst botanists, and many records of plant use will often equally apply to one or more related species that were not seen as distinct when the report was made. Equally, several species not included in the database will be found to have a range of these uses. In general, all species in the genus have medicinal uses, especially as antiinflammatories, analgesics and febrifuges, they can all serve as emergency foods, many of them have flexible stems and can be used in basket making, and many of them can be planted in moist to wet conditions in order to stabilize the soil and improve wildlife habitats.
Salix chilensis Moldenke
Salix chilensis Molina
Common Name: Sauce
Flowering plant in native habitat
Photograph by: Pato Novoa
Salix humboldtiana is a deciduous tree with an open canopy and pendulous branches, growing from 12 - 20 metres tall. The bole is 40 - 60cm in diameter[
], and can be unbranched for the first 12 metres[
The tree is a popular source of material for basket making. It also has local uses as a medicine and low-quality timber. Planted as a pioneer species in reforestation projects, as a hedge and to provide basket-making material, it is also an ornamental tree, used in landscaping projects[
]. It is cultivated in Costa Rica and Panama for the use of its rods in basketwork or for living fences (Cuba)[
S. America - Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, through Central America to Mexico.
Found mainly in secondary forests, but always in places where the soil is moist by rivers etc[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Ornamental, Wild
Salix humboldtiana has a very wide natural range from southern S. America to northern Mexico with a climate varying from temperate to tropical. It is usually found at higher elevations in the tropics, generally up to 2,000 metres[
]. The plant is not very cold-hardy, being able to tolerate short periods with temperatures falling to around -5°c.
Requires a sunny position[
Young plants establish well and grow away quickly[
A dioecious species, both male and female forms need to be grown if seed is required.
The bark has been used medicinally[
]. It contains salicylic acid, from which aspirin has been derived. The bark has antiinflammatory properties.
A pioneer species, able to rapidly invade open areas. It is adapted to humid soils[
It is often planted along streams and irrigation ditches in order to prevent erosion[
It is one of the most frequently cultivated shade-providing trees of the Andes[
Because even large stems root easily, the tree has been used as a living fence[
The slender branches are flexible and are widely used in basketry, to make wicker furniture etc[
The bark is rich in tannin[
The sapwood is indistinct from the heartwood[
]. The wood is moderately lustrous; the grain normally straight; the texture fine and even[
]. It is light in weight, soft, of low resistance to rot when exposed, and very prone to marine borer, termite and blue stain attack[
]. It works very easily with most hand and machine tools; finishes smoothly if sharp cutters are used; glues and nails satisfactorily[
]. It is used for internal work, boxes, rural buildings, paper pulp etc[
The wood can be used as a fuel[
]. It makes a good firewood[
The seed is very small and light, being covered in a white down. Because they blow away so easily, they should be collected from the tree as soon as the seed capsules begin to open. Sow the seed immediately in a lightly shaded seed bed and do not cover them - but make sure the soil remains moist. The germination rate is usually quite low, taking place within a few weeks. The seedlings grow away quickly and can be planted out when about 25cm tall.
Cuttings root easily.
If you have any useful information about this plant, please leave a comment. Comments have to be approved before they are shown here.