Today, the weeping willow is a whipping willow

It’s windy, windy, windy – and you can bet the ground will be strewn with willow whips tomorrow. All the better to collect and add to your flower arranging materials, friends.

This weeping willow seen the other day near Branksome Hall illustrates the lovely spring glow the willows get around Toronto at this time of year.

The weeping willow, I’ve just learned, isn’t likely a Salix babylonica, a common misnomer, apparently. According to Wikipedia: The most widely grown Weeping Willow cultivar is Salix × sepulcralis ‘Chrysocoma’, with bright yellowish shoots. That sounds like it might be it here.

The Don Valley and the lakefront from west to east (especially the Beach) are also well stocked with another willow, our native black willow, Salix nigra. Their bright twigs are variable — from yellow-green to orange — but all take on a deeper hue as winter wanes. And, on a cold, wet walk along the Leslie Street Spit at the tail end of March, I could already see another native, the pussy willow, Salix discolor rearing its fuzzy head.

From Salix comes the root of salicylic acid, an early analgesic. I think of the budding willows as an early aspirin for winter’s headache.


  1. You can also grab tips of willow branches to add to any water you are using to root cuttings.

    Commercial rooting preparations contain a synthetic form of indolebutyric acid and growing tips of willows contain high concentrations of IBA, depending on the quantity used and length of time you soak them. Any willow (Salix) tree or shrub species will work.

  2. Helen,

    I wonder if you could contact me. I’m developing a new non-fiction book called Impossible Gardens , it’s about people who have gardens that defy both logic and reason. For example, people who plant corn and sunflowers in the inner city. Gardens tended by the blind. That sort of thing.

    It will include photos of the gardens, gardeners, their addition to tips and inspirational quotes about gardening.

    I’m contacting Extension Offices and businesses all over hoping to find people with amazing gardens in unlikely places. Do you know of any that might fit this description?

    Could you pass this request along to others?

    Any help you could give me would be wonderful.

    My website is and my email is

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