Weeping willow (Salix babylonica)

North of soccer field, at south end of Lot C Map

By the waters of Babylon there we sat down, yea
we wept when we remembered Zion
We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof (Psalm 137)

Thus is explained the obscure choice of species name for this popular, widely planted tree. However, Salix babylonica originated in China. The willow tree of the Babylonian Captivity may have been Salix alba, the white willow, which attains a stature easily sufficient to support any harp.

Salix babylonica will be familiar to the home gardener as a tree that requires incessant trimming and clean-up. It is a fine shade tree; in fact, no other tree does better at blotting out the sun needed by plants attempting to survive nearby. Despite these negative characteristics, the weeping willow is found throughout Europe and North America, where it was introduced as early as the late 18th century. As with other tree-sized willows, it has many crosses and cultivars. One of the largest weeping willows known anywhere used to be found in Steilacoom, WA; 11.5 ft. in circumference and 52 ft. high. It was planted in 1857, and "murdered" to make way for a subdivision sometime after 1992.

A celebrated phalanx of weeping willows guard Napoleon's grave on St. Helena. Cuttings from these trees are said to be widely distributed. Napoleon himself was re-interred in Paris.