The 08/24/13 Joy Jar

24 Aug

Moi really likes weeping willow trees and thinks that they get a bad rap because folk think that they are sad. They are not, they are majestic. Here are Five Cool Facts about weeping willows:

There is a good deal of symbolism associated with willows. The Westernized thought of weeping willows as a symbol of grief most likely originates from a Bible verse, “By the rivers of Babylon we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the willow-trees we hung up our harps.” (Psalm 137), hence the name Salix babylonica. However, it is generally agreed upon by historians that the trees referred to in this verse are not actually weeping willows; they were most likely poplars. Ironically, in other parts of the world such as China, which is were the tree originated, the willow represents vitality, growth, rebirth and immortality. This symbolism stems from its ability to grow easily from cut branches. Nevertheless, the association between weeping willows and grief persisted throughout history, and were a common gravestone ornament by the 19th century.

Great Growers
Weeping willows are one of the fastest growing trees and sprout easily. In fact, they grow so easily that oftentimes they originate from a broken branch lying the in the soil. It is therefore very adaptable to soil conditions; weeping willows can flourish in both alkaline and acidic conditions. These trees grow an average of 6-8 feet per year and upon maturity can be up to 50 feet tall and 35 feet wide.

Helpful and Harmful Roots
Weeping willow roots are aggressive water seekers. In their search for water, roots can block pipes and damage nearby structures such sidewalks. This is why willows are often planted in open areas near a body of water Just as the roots can be damaging if placed in the wrong setting, they can very helpful if placed in the right setting. Weeping willows are used to help with soil drainage and can help prevent erosion.

Medicinal Uses
People have taken advantage of the medicinal properties of willow trees since ancient times (as early as 400 BC). Chewing on willow bark was an effective way of treating fever and inflammation. This is because the bark contains salicin, which is a chemical similar to the active ingredient in aspirin, acetylsalicylic acid. Recent studies have also suggested that willow bark contains additional antioxidant, antiseptic and immune boosting properties. Research suggests that willow bark is effective at treating headaches, lower back pain and osteoporosis.

Craft Uses
Weeping willows also have a role in arts and crafts. Willows have long been used for wicker work and basketry. Before plastic was invented, willow wickerwork was used to make an array of containers. Willow wood was also used to build houses and furniture. Today, using willow wood is a good way to add a natural rustic element to your living space. Weeping willows have also been used to manufacture charcoal, cricket bats and made into a dye for tanning leather.

Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is the majestic weeping willow tree.

Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.
Bruce Lee

The willow which bends to the tempest, often escapes better than the oak which resists it; and so in great calamities, it sometimes happens that light and frivolous spirits recover their elasticity and presence of mind sooner than those of a loftier character.
Albert Schweitzer

There once was a Willow, and he was very old,
And all his leaves fell off from him, and left him in the cold;
But ere the rude winter could buffet him with snow,
There grew upon his hoary head a crop of mistletoe.
All wrinkled and furrowed was this old Willow’s skin,
His taper finger trembled, and his arms were very thin;
Two round eyes and hollow, that stared but did not see;
And sprawling feet that never walked, had this most ancient tree.

Julianna Horatia Ewing, “The Willow Man”

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