Weeping willow © Andrew McRobb/RBG Kew

Weeping willow

Weeping willow in Chinese script

Salix x sepulcralis var. chrysocoma

Weeping willows have cascades of slender branches. Willows grow quickly and easily, and in China symbolise spring, renewal and immortality. In poetry and painting they are often associated with sorrow and separation.

Willow bark and leaves have been used to treat pain and fever for hundreds of years. In 1827 scientists discovered that the willow is in fact a source of salicin – a kind of natural aspirin.

Willow wood is elastic, tough and light, easy to carve and often used for tool handles, poles and building. The young branches, also strong and flexible, can be woven into baskets and other objects, even shoes and hats. Because it burns evenly, willow wood produces excellent charcoal used to make gunpowder
and crayons.

Back to the list of plants and objects in China Landscape

Willow pattern china, based on a Chinese design, was first produced in England in the 1700s.In classical Chinese gardens willows are usually planted near water. This Chinese garden is in Portland, Oregon, USA. © Tony Kirkham/RBG Kew

Left: Willow pattern china, based on a Chinese design, was first produced in England in the 1700s.

Right: In classical Chinese gardens willows are usually planted near water. This Chinese garden is in Portland, Oregon, USA.

Top left: © Andrew McRobb/RBG Kew
Bottom right: © Tony Kirkham/RBG Kew