Willow – Bends but Doesn’t Break – Represents Adaptability

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 Indian Basket Weavers Association

California Native Plant Society – Arroyo Willow

Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy – Arroyo Willow

Book: Guide to Wild Foods and Useful Plants by Christoper Nyerges

River Partners – Arroyo Willow
River Partners – Riparian Plant List

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

Wild and Edible Medicinal Plants

Life on the Creek Art:

$5 from every sale of ‘Life on the Creek’ art goes to support the website/film production project. Upon completion, the proceeds will be donated to Deer Creek watershed stewardship organizations.

3 thoughts on “Willow – Bends but Doesn’t Break – Represents Adaptability

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