In praise of the willow tree

The willows (Salix spp.) are blooming and boy are they popular (not poplars, that’s a different genus, although the same family)!  What a beautiful tree and what a wonderful resource to the bees in this time of need when not much else is flowering.  I am in awe of them this week.

When I was in China, I was told that willows represent friendship, femininity, and sad parting.

Ming Tombs built for the Empress.

Willows lining an avenue at the Ming Tombs built for the Empress.

While willows have both male and female trees, they are certainly friends to the bees!  And I’m sure the bees are sad to part with them when they stop flowering.

Pussy willows just starting at the end of March

Pussy willows just starting at the end of March

Bud development in early April

Bud development in early April

Second week of April

Second week of April

Second week of April

Second week of April

April 21 starts the bloom

April 21 starts the bloom, this is a male catkin.  Willows are dioecious, meaning that there are trees that produce male flowers and trees that produce female flowers.  Unlike most trees that produce catkins, they are insect pollinated.

Immediately it is covered in bees

Immediately it is covered in bees

Carpenter bees like this one...

Carpenter bees like this one…

but also honeybees, bumble bees, mining bees, sweat bees, cuckoo bees, mason bees...

but also honeybees, bumble bees, mining bees, sweat bees, cuckoo bees, mason bees…

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They are very noticeable in the landscape

They are very noticeable in the landscape

And bee-loved by all

And bee-loved by all, this is a female catkin, it produces a modest amount of nectar to attract bees

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5 thoughts on “In praise of the willow tree

  1. I’ll second that. I have a large willow in my garden but I am planting more to be sure of continuity for the bees. They can make quite a noise on a sunny day when in flower. That last bee photograph is a beautiful bee. I thought it looked like a male with long antenna but it seems to have white hairs to collect pollen on its tibia. Do you have any idea what it is? Amelia

  2. Pingback: A canoeing adventure: This is what it’s all aboat* | standingoutinmyfield

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