Herbs & Plants

Black Willow

Botanical Name ; Salix nigra

Family: Salicaceae
Genus: Salix
Species: S. nigra
Order: Malpighiales
Kingdom: Plantae

Common Name : Black Willow,
Another name occasionally used for Black Willow is “swamp willow”, not to be confused with Salix myrtilloides (Swamp Willow).

Habitat :Salix nigra is  native to eastern North America, from New Brunswick and southern Ontario west to Minnesota, and south to northern Florida and Texas.It is typically found along streams and in swamps.

It is a medium-sized deciduous tree, the largest North American species of willow, growing to 10-30 m tall, exceptionally up to 45 m, with a trunk 50–80 cm diameter. The bark is dark brown to blackish, becoming fissured in older trees frequently forking near the base. The shoots are slender, variable in color from green to brown, yellow or purplish; they are (like the related European Salix fragilis) brittle at the base, snapping evenly at the branch junction if bent sharply. The foliage buds are small, 2–4 mm long, with a single pointed reddish-brown bud scale. The leaves are alternate, long, thin, 5-15 cm long and 0.5-2 cm broad, usually somewhat falcate, dark, shiny green on both sides or with a lighter green underside, with a finely serrated margin, a short petiole and a pair of small stipules. It is dioecious, with small, greenish yellow to yellow flowers borne on catkins 2.5-7.5 cm long in early spring at the same time as the new leaves appear. The fruit is a 5 mm capsule which splits open when mature to release the numerous minute, down-covered seeds. The leaves turn a lemon yellow in the fall.

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Salix gooddingii (Goodding’s Willow) is sometimes included in S. nigra as a variety, as S. nigra var. vallicola Dudley; when included, this extends the species’ range to western North America. However, the two are usually treated as distinct species.

Medicinal Uses;
Black Willow roots are very bitter, and have been used as a substitute for quinine in the past.

Black willow is a safe natural source of aspirin-like chemicals which helps to explain its reputation in the treatment of rheumatism and arthritis where there is much associated pain and inflammation.  It may be used as part of a wider treatment for any connective tissue inflammation anywhere in the body, but it is especially useful in rheumatoid arthritis.  It may also be used in fevers such as influenza.  The bark has been used in the treatment of gonorrhea, ovarian pains and nocturnal emissions. The bark of this species is used interchangeably with S. alba. It is taken internally in the treatment of rheumatism, arthritis, gout, inflammatory stages of auto-immune diseases, diarrhea, dysentery, feverish illnesses, neuralgia and headache. The bark can be used as a poultice on cuts, wounds, sprains, bruises, swellings etc. The leaves are used internally in the treatment of minor feverish illnesses and colic.
Other Uses: The Great Lakes Ojibwa used the young branches and twigs to make baskets and other parts were used to treat indigestion. The bark of the tree can also be used to make a bitter tea with similar chemical compounds to aspirin.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider


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