The Wonderful World of Willows

Vermont Willow Nursery

The Wonderful World of Willows

Vermont Willow Nursery

Salix 'Americana'

(eriocephala x petiolaris)

Americana Willow

This American hybrid willow is a hybrid between S. eriocephala and S. petiolaris--two species that grow wild in Eastern North America, including our property. It was discovered and named in the late 19thC and was originally named Salix americana Hoedt. It is a very popular among basketmakers in Europe, but has not been available in North America for perhaps a century! Here's a history of how it got to Europe: The American willow Salix 'Americana' was illegally imported to Poland by Ernst Hoedt, a willow basketry master in 1885. During his stay in the USA, Hoedt saw this willow and decided to take willow cuttings home to Poland. Since American customs authorities objected, Hoedt created baskets weaved from fresh willow twigs. He kept the basket moist during the long journey and planted the twigs in the Trzciel nursery in the Nowy Tomyśl area of Poland. The new plant known as "the Trzciel American" spread around Europe and nowadays is considered the best for wickerwork goods. Trzciel is the oldest nursery of the 'Americana' willow in Europe.

What happened to 'Americana' in the United States is a mystery, as it appears to have been almost lost to cultivation here? I was able to find a plant of it in an old garden of a friend of mine with a history authenticating its name. This friend allowed me to take cuttings and now I have lots.

It appears to be similar to Salix eriocephala 'American Mackay' and the red-tipped new growth is characteristic of S. eriocephala and is especially noted in S. eriocephala 'Russelliana'. According to Lene Rasmussen of Lakeshore Willows in Ontario, she has used the "European" 'Red Americana' in willow basketry classes in Denmark and that it is very different from other willows, especially the Salix 'Americana' that is being offered by some willow growers in North America. This other willow was brought from England decades ago and is a selection of Salix purpurea--a European species of willow; so I wondered how could it be called 'Americana'. I discovered that it was a very popular willow in the 19thC in the US and was called the American Willow because so many were shipped to America at that time. There are Salix purpurea growing "wild" in our town and in many areas of Vermont that could be seedlings of this selection. I would like to suggest that the counterfeit 'Americana' be renamed Salix purpurea 'America'; however, unlike the country it was named for, it is nothing special (as purpurea selections go)! We have this selection amongst the 20+ purpureas we grow so we have lots to compare it with!


USES:  a great basketry willow adding wonderful red tones to creations.

$12.50 per bundle of 5

This circle of coppiced Salix 'Americana' stands at the entrance to Trzciel, Poland with a stone plaque commemorating the history of its arrival in Poland. Also a flag of the area is shown suspended on a stick building created with  'Americana' willows! Not far away is a Museum dedicated to the history of Willow Basketry in the area with a section dedicated to this important variety.  Photo by unibiker www.panoramio.com/photo/72290060

HOME         VARIETIES         ABOUT US         BEST WILLOWS FOR...         COLLECTIONS         STRUCTURE KITS         ORDER FORM

<PREVIOUS VARIETY         COPPICING & POLLARDING         MAKING A FEDGE         EROSION  CONTROL         RESOURCES         NEXT VARIETY>

Typical of S. eriocephala new growth is red and humbly bowing!

Prominent stipules clasp the stems at the base of the leaf petioles.

Drying 'Americana' rods!

Photos above and below

by Károly Balogh in Hungary.

Male catkins start gray, turn red and eventually yellow when the pollen bursts out of the anthers.

As the buds open there are small narrow leaves on the short catkin stem.

These leaves are tipped with long hairs.

Long straight stems that start green, turn reddish brown later in summer.

In October next year's flower buds appear and have tapered tips. These stems are covered in fine hairs.

Supple young branches in the nursery bent over by wind and heavy rain.

Undersides of the leaves are slightly bluish-green.