A floodplain bath – Willows bring their trunks and snorkels

Drawing leaf of willow

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Frequently represented in the Rhine floodplains: the white willow

Changing water levels and lasting floods do not bother the white willow. You can recognize this tree by its silvery, narrow leaves. The white willow also often has several trunks and an irregular, leaning crown. With the white willow’s soft wood, it is a typical resident of the softwood floodplain landscape.

The willow - well equipped for floods

The white willow has no problem standing in water for up to 200 days a year. The numerous cork warts and aerial roots at the base of the trunk act like snorkels, supplying the roots with oxygen. The tree’s long, flexible branches bend easily in torrential waters. But if branches do break, white willows quickly regrow their limbs, sprouting new roots and shoots in no time.

Water and white willow are a well-rehearsed team

Their seeds are also excellently adapted to the wet habitat. They can float and fly, so they get scattered over a wide area. If they land on the open, moist river bank, they quickly begin to germinate, their roots taking hold in the loose sediment. Water and the white willow are a well-rehearsed team.

Usage of the white willow

Silver willow in the floodplains of the Rhine

Girl crushes leaves of silver willow
Silver willow leaves


Pretty handy: You can crush fresh leaves between your fingers and apply to the skin. This helps with insect bites and small wounds.

Basket woven from willow branches
Willow Leaf


The young branches of the silver willow are very flexible. They are well suited for weaving. From them, for example, you can weave baskets or fences.

Forest bees in a meadow
Silver willow flower

Willow flower

The white willow blooms early in the year. This pleases many insects. Up to 16 species of wild bees visit the willow and collect pollen and nectar.

Trunk of a silver willow


The bark of the white willow contains an analgesic substance (salicylic acid). A tea made from willow bark relieves headaches and was used in the past for fever. Today you can buy the healing power of the silver willow as a tablet against headaches.

For what can you use the bark of the white willow?

a) for shipbuilding

b) for the production of headache remedies

c) for the production of baskets

d) as food for the wild bees


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Drawing of willow leaf