Common Osier

©Anne Tanne

Common osier

Scientific name: Salix viminalis
The Common osier is a small willow tree that is found in fens and ditches, and on riverbanks. It has been widely cultivated and coppiced for its twigs, which are used in traditional basket-making.

Species information

Statistics

Height: 6-7m

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

January to December

About

The Common osier is a small willow tree that is particularly common in wet areas such as fens, ditches and riversides. It has also been widely cultivated and planted for its twigs, which are coppiced and used in basket-making. Indeed, even living willows are being woven into fences, screens and sculptures.
Like with other willows, male and female flowers are found on different plants; make catkins are yellow, while female ones are green.

How to identify

The Common osier is a small, scrub-forming tree. It has very long, narrow, pointed leaves, with slightly rolled in sides and silvery hairs underneath. Its male catkins are yellow and its female catkins are greenish.

Distribution

Widespread.

Did you know?

During the Second World War, domestic basket-making was banned, so willow-makers turned their hands to creating panniers for ammunition and food that were dropped from aeroplanes to the troops below.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts keep many sustainable and traditional countryside crafts alive in order to manage their nature reserves sympathetically for wildlife and for the enjoyment of visitors. You can help too: volunteer for The Wildlife Trusts and you could be involved in everything from basket-making to raising awareness about wetland wildlife.