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Salix babylonica

Weeping Willow

 

Paul J. Appel, Kate St. John

 

669 Custer Avenue, New Holland PA

 

A bizarre tree on tripod stilts growing on an Amish farm.  How can such a tree form ever develop?

Kate St. John, in her blog "Outside My Window" (Oct. 13, 2013), wrote about a hemlock "on stilts" in Western Pennsylvania's Parker Dam State Park. She said:  "Hemlocks have shallow root systems and can sprout easily in moist locations.  Sometimes they sprout in the moss on top of a rock or stump and their roots follow the con- tour across the surface and become anchored in the earth nearby.

 

"My guess is that this tree sprouted on a stump that decayed out from under it.  The support disappeared after the hemlock’s root system was already established but the hemlock didn’t care.  It sent down some new roots and just kept growing in place. Hem-

locks in this position are vulnerable in wind storms but this one is in the understory, surrounded and protected by many other trees."  [Third photo, by St. John, is of the Hemlock.  See (https://www.birdsoutsidemywindow.org/2013/10/13/tree-on-stilts/)]

Our Willow is also of interest because of its distinct resemblance to the char- acter Tree Beard in Lord of the Rings (fourth photo).

This amazing species produces a substance similar to aspirin in its bark. Deer often rub new antlers against this willow’s trunk to relieve the itch, often damaging young trees in the process. Bayer aspirin emerged from research on willow bark that began in 1763.