Species Of The Week Number 6: Weeping Willow

The impressive willow on the corner of Meanwood Road and Stainbeck Road marks an important site for the Meanwood Road Project. Not only did it host one of our pop-up portrait studios in the Summer, but is also next to the infamous 'Welcome to Meanwood' sign. It was the partly the positioning of this sign, and its implication that 'Meanwood starts here' that led to our discussions about the identity of the communities that border Meanwood Road eastwards, down towards Buslingthorpe and beyond. Weeping Willows have have long, narrow and smooth leaves with finely toothed leaf edges. They have long drooping branches that - usually - touch the ground. Our Willow branches aren't touching the ground because the Council came and gave it a bit of a pudding-bowl haircut. Willows have been associated with sadness and mourning such in Shakespeare's Hamlet, with Ophelia drowning near a willow tree: "There is a willow grows aslant the brook that shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream; therewith fantastic garlands did she make of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples that the liberal shepherds give a grosser name, but our cold maids do dead men's fingers call them. There, on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds clamb'ring to hang, an envious sliver broke; when down her weedy trophies and herself fell in the weeping brook." Conversley, a willow wand in Harry Potter was supposed to have healing powers and there is some logic behind this. Weeping Willow is a member of the Salix genus which has over 300 species in it. They range from tiny shrubs to very large trees. Traditionally, willows were used to relieve pain associated with a headache and toothache. The painkiller Aspirin is derived from salicin, a compound found in the bark of all Salix species.
Posted by clunym clunym, November 03, 2022 02:14 PM

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