weeping willow




pronounced: say-lik-AY-see-eye

the willow and poplar family

The type genus is Salix, the willow family, the name used by the Romans. The family has recently been greatly expanded, due to generic reaearch. It consists of perennial shrubs and trees that are fast-growing, and capable of clonal growth and resprouting from root shoots, rhizomes, layering, or stem fragmentation. The leaves are usually alternate, simple with serrate margins, stipulate, the leaves deciduous. The inflorescences are racemous or spicate, usually catkins, unbranched, flowering before or as leaves emerge or year-round. Probably the best-known member of the family is the weeping willow, Salix babylonica. Linnaeus used babylonica as the specific because of the reference in Psalm 137:

     By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
     We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. (KJV)

Actually, the trees by the River Euphrates in biblical times were not willows, but the similar and related Populus euphratica, the Euphrates poplar.


Photograph by Geaugagrrl, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons