The Common Osier, or Willow is a vigorous, fast-growing native shrub, often found in wet or damp situations in the countryside. The young stems are yellow in spring, and the yellow-green catkins attract a variety of insects. The Common Osier is best known as a source of stems for basket-making, but in recent years it has become familiar as the plant used to make living willow sculptures. Environmentally, it is useful for its ability to absorb heavy metals, and is planted to clean up contaminated sites.
Site and soil
Wet and boggy soils, chalk and coastal areas. Will do well on exposed and contaminated sites.
Height and spread
Below are the approximate stages of growth, assuming sited in suitable conditions for this species;
After 10 years: 5m x 5m After 20 years: 5m x 5m
Leaf and bark
The leaves are glossy, linear and dark green up to 15cm long, silvery-hairy beneath. The bark is smooth and yellow-green on younger shoots.
Flower, seed and fruit
The flowers are greenish catkins, appearing in late winter/early spring before the leaves. The Common Osier is dioecious - male and female flowers are borne on different plants. The males have yellow anthers, and the green female flowers become more spiky before releasing their tiny seeds in June. When bought in quantity there is a good chance both sexes will be represented.
Screening, windbreak, damp woodlands, waterside planting, coppicing, contaminated sites. The Common Osier has the ability to absorb some heavy metals like cadmium, and is often planted to reclaim industrial sites. It is also planted to make small scale water treatment systems; waste water is passed through willow beds, which clean it for re-use. With a growth rate of about 1m per year, the Common Osier is now planted commercially for bio-fuel, although formerly its most familiar use was for basket-making and fencing. Salicylic acid, the active ingredient of aspirin, was originally extracted from the bark.
Important for reclaiming contaminated sites. The catkins provide early pollen and nectar for bees, and a range of butterflies and moths, including the Lackey Moth and the Herald Moth depend on the Common Osier.
The main reasons for buying protection is to protect the plants against:
When it comes to deciding what protection to choose the golden rule is to choose the product dependent on which pest you are protecting against. The below will help you in deciding what height of protection you will need.
Vole, Mice 20cm
Roe Deer, Muntjac 1.20m
Fallow Deer 1.50m
Pest & Minimum Protection Height
Protection Type Where more than one size is listed, the wider diameter protection is recommended for taller, bushier plants.
Support Required Taller support is recommended for use in sandier, lighter soils and wider/stronger support should be used at exposed sites.