Tree Notes is about trees -- especially native trees, trees for wildlife, and trees in history.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Weeping willow, a weak-wooded tree

One problem after another with weeping willows



One of the first articles I wrote for this blog was titled, "One tree not to plant!" I confessed that I had planted two weeping willow trees, even though I had read plenty of cautions about the headaches the tree can cause for homeowners. And sure enough, one of the trees has been a big problem and is no doubt going to die soon.

Consider this a postscript to that story. A few days ago, we had a prolonged and very strong wind and thunderstorm, as the front edge of a cold front moved in. The next morning I went out to look at the trees. No major branches were broken in any of them except -- can you guess which one? -- the weeping willow that has already broken repeatedly.

A fairly big branch is dangling high up in the tree. I don't know how we'll get it down. Even with the pruning saw that's on the end of a pole, I think it will be out of reach.

I won't tell you not to plant a weeping willow, because I understand how you might love the look of the tree. But I will tell you this -- consider carefully whether you want to deal with broken branches again and again and again throughout the short life of this tree.

Speaking from my personal experience of being a longtime weeping willow lover and now an owner, the joy of seeing the tree in my yard hardly makes up for the problems it has created.

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2 comments -- please add yours:

Brandy said...

Thank you. I found your blog very helpful. I was considering planting one in my front yard. Why? Because like many, I think they are beautiful. If they are a hastle to maintain, then I would much rather admire them from a distance.

Anonymous said...

I understand what u r saying and your problem but where u live has some bearing on your results and fertilizer used. I am a weeping willow owner but only a few years older than a sapling. One of my neighbors up the street has a big beautiful one.

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"The power to recognize trees at a glance without examining their leaves or flowers or fruit as they are seen, for example, from the car-window during a railroad journey, can only be acquired by studying them as they grow under all possible conditions over wide areas of territory. Such an attainment may not have much practical value, but once acquired it gives to the possessor a good deal of pleasure which is denied to less fortunate travelers."

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Print references I frequently consult

Benvie, Sam. Encyclopedia of North American Trees. Buffalo, NY: Firefly, 2000.

Brockman, C. Frank. Trees of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. Ed. Herbert S. Zim. New York: Golden, 1986.

Cliburn, Jerry, and Ginny Clomps. A Key to Missouri Trees in Winter: An Identification Guide. Conservation Commission of the State of Missouri, 1980.

Collingwood, G. H., Warren David Brush, and Devereux Butcher. Knowing Your Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1978.

Dirr, Michael. Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: an Illustrated Encyclopedia. Portland, Or.: Timber, 1997.

Elias, Thomas S. The Complete Trees of North America; Field Guide and Natural History. New York: Book Division, Times Mirror Magazines, 1980.

Grimm, William Carey. The Book of Trees;. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole, 1962.

Hightshoe, Gary L. Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines for Urban and Rural America: a Planting Design Manual for Environmental Designers. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1988.

Little, Elbert L. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees. New York: Chanticleer, 1996.

Martin, Alexander C., Herbert S. Zim, and Arnold L. Nelson. American Wildlife and Plants. New York: McGraw Hill, 1951.

Mitchell, Alan F., and David More. The Trees of North America. New York, NY: Facts On File Publications, 1987.

Randall, Charles E. Enjoying Our Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1969.

Settergren, Carl D., and R. E. McDermott. Trees of Missouri. Columbia: University Extension, 1995.

Sternberg, Guy, and James W. Wilson. Native Trees for North American Landscapes: from the Atlantic to the Rockies. Portland: Timber, 2004.

Wharton, Mary E., and Roger W. Barbour. Trees and Shrubs of Kentucky. Lexington: University of Kentucky, 1973.

Wyman, Donald. Trees for American Gardens. New York: Macmillan, 1965.

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