WHITE WILLOW (Salix alba L)

Description
It’s a dioecious tree (divided in male and female individual flowers) with caducous leaves that grows as tall as 20 m. Branches are alternate with a grayish-green bark, somewhat yellowish easily detached. They are fragile. Leaves are opposite of 10 to 15 cm length by 2-3 cm wide. They have a short, light yellowish-green peduncle of 0.7 to 1 cm. Green leaves are glossy above and light green and opaque beneath due to the presence of soft hairs. Edges are serrate and glandular. New leaves are oval-shaped and gradually turn into lanceolate. There are female and male willow tree, which are only different from each other by the flowers. The flowers are in erect catkins; the male ones have yellow tall stamens and the female ones are green. Male flowers have two stamens and two nectaries. Female flowers have one nectary and a two-carpels gynoecium of a glabrous ovary with two stigmas. The inflorescence is coetaneous in female flowers, (it is, they grow at the same time as the leaves, not before them, as it is in other willow species). Rachis is green, pubescent with short and clear hair. It’s flaky in light green and scarcely pubescent of 0.3 cm long with a flatten nectary that wraps half the base of the ovary in a clear yellowish-green color. The flower is approximately 0.35 cm long. Fruits are glabrous capsules and seeds have a cottony whitish crest. Their parachute-like shape allows them to travel long distances in the wind. The fruit is formed from the female catkins. It belongs to the Salicaceae family.

It is original from Europe, except from the northern end, western Asia and barely some parts of Northern Africa. It grows in stream banks, roadsides, and shaded moist areas near rivers. It succeeds in most soils, including wet, ill-drained or intermittently flooded soils, especially for the roots. It blooms in spring (March and April). Seeds are dispersed by the wind in May.

Part used
The stems and the trunk bark; although the leaves and catkins are also used in folk medicine. The bark is obtained from branches older than three years and not before mid-autumn, when the first leaves have dropped. Leaves and catkins may be harvested during summer, before fruits are formed.

Indications
Bark
> Acute and chronic rheumatism, myalgia, symptomatic lumbar pain relief.
> Fever.
> Flu and common cold.
> Headaches, neuralgia and migraine.
> Dysmenorrhea or algomenorrhea, amenorrhea, menopause.
> Genital erethism: anaphrodisiac.
> Insomnia: neurasthenia.
> Arteriosclerosis, thromboembolism prevention.
> Wounds, trophic ulcers.

Catkins
> Uterine spasms.
> Anxiety: insomnia.
> Increased sexual appetite.
> Painful menstrual periods.
> Vaginism: painful sexual intercourse.


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