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WILLOW

VRBA - SALIX

Willow together with poplar belong to willowy family . They are dioecious shrubs and trees that are found almost all over the world (except Australia and New Zealand) in 300-600 species. Very common are also hybrids. In our country, from the lowlands to the mountains can be found about 20 species of willows. They are fast growing, but short-lived species, maximum age is about 100 years. Willows are used in forestry (primarily part of the lowland swamp forests, but also other wetland habitats) in horticulture, for bank reinforcement, basketry, wood carving (clogs, scoops, spoons - lightweight but little durable wood), are important as the first food for bees in spring. The bark is used in folk medicine and pharmacy.

The most widespread species of willow used in basketry:


Salix viminalis L.

Salix viminalis L.Shrub with straight upright branches. Belong to the most common and the oldest willow used in basketry.

Wicker is smooth, firm, the color of bast is dark green or browngreen. The leaves are alternately built, narrowly lanceolate, broadest below the middle, the entire circuit to corrugated and with underturned edge.

Salix viminalis L.On the reverse are silvery hairy. Good variety that doesn´t suffer from pests or hail much.

Quality of this willow is lower than the American willow.

Salix triandra L./ Salix amygdalina L.

Salix amygdalina L.Branchy shrub with developed strain.

Bark is of cinnamon color and on thicker branches and strains flakes off in slabs.

The leaves are narrowly elliptic - lanceolate, glabrous, shiny. At least some have in the middle parallel edges.

Salix amygdalina L.It´s one of the basketry willows cultivated for longest time. Needs harder, nutrient rich soil.

Wicker is gray-green to dark green and brown - olive green.

Its negative is low resistance to pests, diseases and also suffer of spring frosts.

Salix purpurea L.

Shrub with thin erected branches, conspicuous yellow bast. Alternated leaves, widest above the middle, gray underneath, during drying turning black. Wicker color is gray-green, sometimes red. Branches out only little. Require lighter soil. It is one of the modest willows on growing conditions.

Salix mollissima syn. S. x hippophaeifolia Thuill

t is a hybrid of Salix viminalis and Salix triandra. Grow as a small shrub with yellow-green or reddish-brown bark. Leaves narrowly lanceolate. Very suitable for basketry. Usually suffer from leaf diseases only.

Salix cv Americana

Salix cv AmericanaFlexible low shrub. Leaves lanceolate, bald on the back, just midrib hairy, gray, red when unfolding.

Species was imported to Europe at the end of the 19th century.

The lower part of the rod is light green, the middle part is green-and-brown ,passes to reddish-brown and the top is dark brown.

Salix cv AmericanaSalix cv Americana grow up to 250 cm lenght.

It is considered as the best willow. It is very sensitive to pests and diseases.

Salix fragilis L.

Salix fragilis L.It is a tree with pale, gray-green branches.

Leaves lanceolate, glabrous on both sides, on the back greyish.

Often mistaken for white willow. Cultivated as "capitatum" willow for willow wicker.

Salix fragilis L..

Salix alba L

Salix alba LTree growing to a height of 25 m

Leaves narrow, lanceolate, silky hairy on the back.

It is best known as willow "Hlavatice".

It grows abundantly along streams at low altitudes. Suffer from frost. It has many varieties.

It is used for coarse basketry work.

Salix alba L.

Salix acutifolia

Salix acutifoliaShrub with long thin branches.

Leaves narrow, lanceolate.

Native to Eastern Europe. It is less fertile.

It is used as a preparatory tree species in reforestation. Technical willow.

Leaves lanceolate, glabrous on both sides, on the back greyish.

Often mistaken for white willow. Cultivated as a "head" for willow wicker.

Salix acutifolia.

List of species grown in the Czech Republic

For clarity, the list is organized by type of willow, although some may be in the transition between groups.

1. narrow-leaved willow
A. domestic in the Czech Republic

  • Salix alba L.
  • Salix fragilis L.
  • Salix daphnoides Vill.
  • Salix pentandra L.
  • Salix purpurea L.
  • Salix triandra L.
  • Salix myrsinifolia Salisb.
  • Salix eleagnos Scop.
  • Salix viminalis L.

B. just planted

  • Salix x sepulcralis Simk.
  • Salix alba L. ´Tristis´
  • Salix babylonica L.
  • Salix matsudana Koidzumi ´Tortuosa´
  • Salix x blanda N.J. Anderson
  • Salix acutifolia Willd.
  • Salix ´Americana´
  • Salix integra Hakuro nishiki

2. broad-leaved willow

  • Salix caprea L.
  • Salix cinerea L.
  • Salix aurita L.
  • Salix silesiaca Willd.
  • Salix appendiculata Vill.

3. dwarf willow

  • Salix hebacea L.
  • Salix lapponum L.
  • Salix rosmarinifolia L.
  • Salix repens L.
  • Salix myrtilloides L.
  • Salix bicolor Willd.
  • Salix starkeana Willd.
  • Salix hastata L.

Other common species of willow: willow willow - Rokyta, willow ash, eared willow, Willow Tree, etc.

Harvesting and use

White Wicker – Sappy Wicker

Wicker1. Harvested in vegetation period - in April and May, depending on the ability to peel the willow. The disadvantage of this is that this harvest will weaken the plant growth, which will loose the spring sap and next year will be the wicker smaller.
2. Harvest time is excluded vegetation period. Wicker is harvested in winter. It is stored outdoors and after spring frosts are artificially sap mostly in small pools but also in running water or in heaps covered against drying.

WickerWillow is peeled as soon as roots and branches on the top begin to grow. Wicker is peeled with wooden rifle with metal settlement (Dračka) or iron stands (called goat) .When peeling a larger quantity, it´s used cracker machine. These instruments peeles off boiled wicker as well as sappy wicker. If sappy, the peel goes off easily. Wicker must be peeled in nice weather. Otherwise it gets mucky white to grey color. When drying wicker musn´t get wet and if it is tied up with the willow bark, it must be pulled up in order to get uniform bleached color of wicker. For this purpose is mostly used Salix viminalis L., Salix L. amygdalin, Salix cv Americana and red willow. From 100 kg of green wicker without leaves you get 20-40 kg of white wicker ( depends on the length of wicker and amount of sap in the rod).

White wicker is suitable for weaving after 6 months, during this period become wicker mature. We do not recommend weaving immediately after peeling.

Vařené proutí

WickerProutí se sklízí jen v době vegetačního klidu. Po vytřízení od plevele se proutí vaří průměrně 4-6 hodin a poté chladí přibližně stejdou dobu. Vařením získává proutí nažloutlou až načervenalou barvu, podle druhu vrby. Proutí se poté loupe a dále zpracovává např. třídí, suší, dosouší a skladuje ve vzdušných skladovacích prostorech na dřevěných podlážkách asi 30 cm nad podlahou, aby pod skladovaným proutím proudil vzduch a materiál neplesnivěl. 

Vařené proutí je vhodné na pletení až po 3 měsících, kdy proutí zraje. Nedoporučujeme plést  ihned po oloupání.

Boiled willow

Wicker is harvested excluded vegetation period. After selection from weeds is wicker boiled for 4-6 hours and then cooled for approximately same time. Due boiling gets wicker yellowish to reddish color, depending on the type of willow. Wicker is then peeled and further processed such as sorting and drying and it´s stored in air storage areas on wooden ground about 30 cm above the floor so that the air would flow under the stored wicker and material won´t go mouldy.

Boiled wicker is suitable for weaving after 3 months when wicker matures. We do not recommend weaving immediately after peeling.

Green willow

"Wet"
Weaving from directly harvested wicker is not recommended (except whip) because the peel dries out and the basket is not firm. It is better to steam this wicker. Then peel doesn´t dry out so much and baskets are stronger.

"Dry"
Wicker must be soaked for longer time.