Okay, I know it’s not spring yet, but our weather here in North Idaho sure feels like it! We’ve had temps in the 40s and rain – I can hardly believe it! We still have quite a bit of snow on our pastures, gardens and throughout our forest, but it’s still got me itching to do some wildcrafting/foraging.
So let’s talk a little about Willow, aka Salix spp.
Willow is one of my favorite trees. I love weeping willow in particular, but there are so many more varieties out there I don’t want to make them feel bad, so I don’t usually say that. 🙂
Willow loves water and will thrive anywhere you have a good pooling of water – or, if you’re fortunate enough, near a pond, creek or river.
It’s best to gather the willow’s gifts in the spring, but what parts will you gather? The bark and leaves primarily, but you can also gather the twigs to soak and make a natural rooting hormone to get your plant starts going!
There are several edible parts of the willow, but honestly, they’re so bitter that it requires quite a bit of work to make them truly edible. However, the leaves and bark have special medicinal qualities.
They contain salicin, which can help reduce fever and inflammation (if you really need to, please see our lessons on cold/flu to take a more holistic approach to health).