Some main uses of the versatile genus Salix are described. The basket willow industry, once nationwide but now concentrated in Somerset, is covered in some detail, noting the site requirements and attributes of the three main basket willow species, Salix triandra L., S. viminalis L. and S. purpurea L. The management of the crops and methods of processing to give the ‘white’ or ‘buff’ coloured rods preferred by basket makers are described, as are the ability and versatility of basketry to produce containers uniquely suited to meet specific needs.
Other uses of the shrub willows (sub-genus Vetrix) are outlined, including the stabilisation of slopes and other aspects of bioengineering, amelioration of difficult environments and large-scale amenity urban and motorway plantings.
Attention is drawn to opportunities to develop the tree willows (sub-genus Salix) to meet projected timber shortages, to the use of willows for windbreaks and shelter, and to the culture and use of that very British tree – the Cricket Bat Willow (S. alba var. caerulea (Sm.) Sm.).