Flora of the Delta – goat willow.

Flora of the Delta – goat willow.

Goat willow (Salix caprea) – a species of plants from the willow family, growing up to over 20 m in height. It lives to be 60 years old. Goat willow blooms in March or April, just before the leaves develop. Male flowers (catkins) are one of the most distinctive signs of spring. The gray, silky catkins protect the more vulnerable parts of the flowers from the cold.

Branches with catkins are often harvested at Easter and used to make holiday palms and to decorate holly baskets. Because goat willow is the first of all domestic willow species to flower, it is valued as a melliferous plant in beekeeping.

This species is very popular in Poland but it also grows in the rest of Europe and Asia. For centuries, the bark has been used as a herbal resource. It has analgesic and antipyretic properties thanks to salicin. Twigs and leaves of willow used to also provide fodder for sheep and goats and the coal from the wood of the iva was used to make gunpowder.

Text: Kalina Adamczyk.

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