Willow

09_Salgueiro

Salgueiro, native from Portugal and Spain, is a shrub that can reach up to 3 m high. The leaves are of a moderate width and have the underside with a fluff of hair that gives it a whitish appearance.

Name of Material in the local and Latin language
Salgueiro, Salix salviifolia Brot.
Type of Material
Organic
Commonly Found Locations
Primarily grows in a temperate biome

Hardness
Most willow (Salix) species are considered ‘soft wood’, since they are fast growth ligneous plants. KLEYER et al. (2008) state that such plants should present branch densities below 0.60 g/cm3.
Structure
The specific pruning technique for willows used in basketry is named ‘pollarding’: middle sized trees are cut horizontally in the main trunk, so that numerous young shoots emerge from around the cut area. Every year the tree is pruned again near the same location, so that numerous, long, young shoots emerge to be harvested.

Industrial and Crafts Applications
Traditionally, willow is used for crafting smaller-scale baskets. Alongside basket willow, it is one of the most flexible and versatile natural fibers for use in basket making.
Historical or Cultural Uses
Willow is one of the most common raw materials used in fine basketry. These baskets are traditionally associated with household use such as sewing, bread, fruit, cheese or picnic baskets.

Extraction Methods
Willow is hand harvested with the help of secateurs between November and February
Processing Techniques
After being harvested, the bark is removed from the willow and later stripped and dried. Before using it, it has to be soaked in water and always kept moistened while working with it.
Recycling and Waste Management
100% biodegradable if not mixed with any chemical product or material.

Interesting Facts or Historical Anecdotes
Just like basket willow, willow is a very common natural material used in basketry making in Portugal. As these baskets are associated with households, they were traditionally crafted by women.

Salgueiro (willow, Salix salviifolia Brot.) is a spontaneous endemic shrub of the Iberian Peninsula, mostly found in the center and western half. Reaching up to 3 meters in height, the leaves are of a moderate width and have the underside with a fluff of hair that gives it a whitish appearance.

Primarily growing on a temperate biome, it is found on riverbanks, especially permanent torrential watercourses, with unstable banks, or temporary watercourses, thus needing permanent humidity and notwithstanding extreme temperatures. Populations are sparse and not very dense in the Guadiana basin; in the Sado basin they form continuous galleries; in the Xarrama River it is uncommon; but it is also present in the Tagus basin.

Usually very branched from the base, it is hand harvested with the help of secateurs between November and February. After being harvested, the bark is removed from the willow and later stripped and dried. To remove willow bark, for example, one may use a splint made from a thicker willow stick, folded in half. Before using it, it has to be soaked in water and always kept moistened while working with it.Traditionally, willow is used for crafting smaller-scale baskets.
Alongside basket willow, it is one of the most flexible and versatile natural fibres for use in basket making, making it one of the most common raw materials used in fine basketry in Portugal. These baskets are traditionally associated with household use, like sewing, bread, fruit, cheese or picnic baskets, and, as such, they were traditionally crafted by women. Some of the threats found to this species is the habitat alteration due to degradation of the banks of watercourses, and the cutting to reduce bird populations that are harmful to agriculture in neighbouring fields. There are no industrial producers or suppliers and it is 100% biodegradable if not mixed with any chemical product or material.

  • PT_Salgueiro_Nature Profile©Pedro Arsenio_01

    Photo by Pedro Arsénio

  • PT_Salgueiro_Nature Profile©Jenna Duffy_01
References:

KLEYER, M., BEKKER, R.M., KNEVEL, I.C., BAKKER, J.P, THOMPSON, K., SONNENSCHEIN, M., POSCHLOD, P., VAN GROENENDAEL, J.M., KLIMES, L., KLIMESOVÁ, J., KLOTZ, S., RUSCH, G.M., HERMY, M., ADRIAENS, D., BOEDELTJE, G., BOSSUYT, B., DANNEMANN, A., ENDELS, P., GÖTZENBERGER, L., HODGSON, J.G., JACKEL, A-K., KÜHN, I., KUNZMANN, D., OZINGA, W.A., RÖMERMANN, C., STADLER, M., SCHLEGELMILCH, J., STEENDAM, H.J., TACKENBERG, O., WILMANN, B., CORNELISSEN, J.H.C., ERIKSSON, O., GARNIER, E., PECO, B. (2008). The LEDA Traitbase: A database of life-history traits of Northwest European flora. Journal of Ecology 96: 1266-1274.
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