salix-scoulerianaCommon name: Scouler’s willow

Scientific name: Salix scouleriana

Native American name: Kai – Navajo name for willow tree

Plant family: Salicaceae

Description: Scouler’s willow can be classified as a tall, spindly shrub or a small tree. The leaves are alternate, broad and wide at the middle, but taper to a pointed/rounded tip.  The young leaves and sticks are very velvety.  The flowers can be identified easily as male or female, and the ovaries of the flowers are silky.[1]

Habitat and range: Scouler’s willow is found along stream and river banks, upland tickets, clearings, open deciduous or coniferous forests as well as wetlands and the edges of forests in low to mid elevations.1 Scouler’s willow is common in the western portion of the United States.  It can be found from Alaska to California and as far east as South Dakota.[2]

Historical and contemporary uses: Historically, the willow bark has been used for pain, fever reduction, and many other ailments by chewing the bark.  It has aspirin-like properties that has used by indigenous people in the Pacific Northwest for centuries.  A poultice can also be made from the bark and sap for the treatment of wounds or serious cuts.  Decoction from the roots has also been used historically to treat dysentery.   Also a decoction can be made from the branches for women to take after giving birth to increase blood flow.[3]   The stems and branches are also used as weaving material for baskets since they are notoriously flexible.  The bark can be stripped from the shrub and used for weaving clothing, bags or as fiber for ropes.  Since the stems are lightweight and shock absorbing, the material has been and still is ideal for the use in manufacturing prosthetics.[4]  The Secwepemc tribe of B.C. uses the wood for smoking fish, drying meat, as well as for fishing nets, lashing, sewing, ropes and decoration.  They use the branches and twigs to make decoctions to treat, body odor as well as for diaper rashes.[5]

[1] MacKinnon, Andy and Jim Pojar. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Vancouver: Lone Pine Publishing, 1994.

[2] USDA. Plants Profile. n.d. 6 November 2011 <>

[3] Herbs, Natural Medicinal. Scouler’s Willow. n.d. 6 Nov. 2011’s-willow.php>.

[4] University, Oregon State. “Scouler’s Willow.” April 2005. 5 November 2011 <>

[5] Wikipedia. Willow. 3 November 2011. 6 November 2011. <>.