Montana is home to several varieties of Willows. Most of these wonderful and hearty plants can be found along our watersheds. Their root systems hold the banks and shorelines in place.
Prevention erosion, cover, and food for critters are all important. Shade along the rivers keeps the water cool and healthy for fish. Insects, like Caddis and Salmon flies, use the cover of Willows to stage their reproduction.
Browsing deer, moose, and elk enjoy Willow for food. Native peoples used this plant for baskets, shelter, and many other purposes. One daily use was to use them as toothbrushes. The bark of the Willow contains a chemical that is numbs the gums. Like acetaminophen, they would also chew on branches to get rid of headaches. Simply cut a pencil thick branch and smash the end of it. Now dip it into the water and scrub your teeth.
Willows are often eroded away from the banks of streams and shores. Another interesting feature of Willow is that they easily root when placed into water or damp soils. Cut branches, an inch or so thick, and stick them into eroded banks. Remove any leaves that will be buried in the soil. Leave a few leaves above the ground. The longer the stick the better. Shoving a few feet of willow into a bank allows for a few feet of rooting to occur. Their natural rooting hormone will do the rest. This is a great way to naturally protect banks and shores from disappearing due to erosion.
Help protect your special watersheds!
For more Montana Grant, find him rooting at www.montanagrantfishing.com.