Salix nigra Marshall

Black willow is the largest and most widely distributed of the native willows, although it is rare above an altitude of 2000 feet in the Adirondacks and in the pine barrens of Long Island. It prefers moist or wet soils along streams or lakes but is sometimes found on fresh, gravelly or sandy soils where it can get plenty of light. It is of little importance as a timber tree as it often divides into several crooked, medium-sized trunks close to the ground and the wood is soft and weak. It is used chiefly for boxes, excelsior, pulp, and also for artificial limbs because of its lightness.

Bark - thick, rough with wide ridges covered by thick scales, varies in color from light to dark brown.

Twigs - slender, smooth, somewhat drooping, very brittle at the base, reddish brown in color; falling to the ground they may take root and grow.

Winter buds - terminal bud absent, lateral buds small, sharp-pointed, reddish brown in color; only a single bud scale.

Leaves - alternate, simple, linear, sharp-pointed, finely serrate margin, dark green in color above, pale green below.

Fruit - a smooth capsule, about 1/8 inch long, occurring in large numbers on drooping tassels, ripening in the spring, reddish brown in color. Seeds - within capsule, covered with a dense tuft of long, silky hairs.

Distinguishing features - narrow leaves; small buds with 1 bud scale.

50a. The shining willow (Salix lucida Muhlenberg) is an attractive small tree of moist soils, used extensively for holding soil in place where erosion is to be feared and also for ornamental plantings. Its shiny, broad leaves and yellowish brown twigs will help to distinguish it from the black willow.

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