Osiers in flower

April 11th 2015

Osiers in flower

These long wands of silvery catkins, turning yellow as they open, are the male flowers of osier or basket willow Salix viminalis. The open flowers were buzzing with bees when I photographed them at Nedd (NC1331) on 8th April 2015.

Scattered old osiers, often large and with split trunks, are found around the coast in Assynt, more rarely inland, but always near human habitation. They were probably planted to use in making fish creels and peat baskets, though I suspect not in living memory. Later in the year, osiers may be distinguished from other willows by their long, narrow leaves, which are silky-hairy beneath. Two questions for the curious: are all our osiers male, and has anyone ever seen a seedling?

Ian Evans

osier or basket willow Salix viminalis, Nedd. Photo I. Evans
osier or basket willow Salix viminalis, Nedd. Photo I. Evans
osier or basket willow Salix viminalis, Nedd. Photo I. Evans
osier or basket willow Salix viminalis, Nedd. Photo I. Evans

Report a Sighting

Recent Sightings

Garganey

single male Loch Neil Bhain (DAH). This is only the third Assynt record of this species. Photo - Gallery Birds (19/05)

Lapwing

three adult birds and one chick, Loch Neil Bhain (DAH) (19/05)

Whimbrel

two birds near Culkein Drumbeg jetty (DAH). Photo - Gallery Birds (19/05)

Risso's Dolphin

four animals off Stoerhead Lighthouse (DAH) (19/05)

Arctic Tern

15+ birds on offshore island Culkein Drumbeg (DAH) (19/05)

Shelduck

pair still present Oldany estuary area (DAH) (19/05)

Golden Plover

at least four birds on grazing land Balchladich (Janet French) (18/05)

Arctic Skua

both a dark and a pale morph bird off Stoerhead Lighthouse (Mal Edwards) (17/05)

Map