Arroyo Willow – Salix Lasiolepis
The Arroyo Willow is common in California and in most of the Western states. It is found close to water and is a plant with many uses.
Wetland Habitat: This plant is important in riparian (creek and waterway) environments because it provides habitat and food for insects, birds, amphibians and other animals. In spring, birds use a cottony substance released by the seeds to build nests.
The Arroyo Willow is a native shrub or tree that likes to keep its feet wet. It spreads by sending out root runners, which create thickets. (It can also propagate from branch cuttings.) The species is known as a freshwater indicator. As much as the Arroyo Willow likes water, it is also drought tolerant.
Riparian Restoration: Along with plant and animal habitat, the Arroyo Willow is used as a natural form of erosion control.
Medicinal Uses: Native Californians and herbalists use the bark and leaves to treat headaches, sore throats, and diarrhea.
Tool Making: The Arroyo Willow is used to make baskets, arrows, furniture, and flutes.
Symbolic: The willow grows long, straight shoots in the spring. These shoots are highly flexible and resist breakage. It symbolizes grief – (bending) and recovery – (bouncing back).
“Respect the plant as a living thing so it’s still there the next year,” Linda Navarro, California Indian Basket Weavers Association
Arrows and Headache Medicine
Calflora – Arroyo Willow
California Native Plant Society – Arroyo Willow
Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy – Arroyo Willow
Book: Guide to Wild Foods and Useful Plants by Christoper Nyerges
Book: Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California’s Natural Resources
by M. Kat Anderson
PDF – U.S. Department of Agriculture – Native Willow Varieties for the Pacific Northwest