While many people probably think of majestic deciduous trees when talking about willows, it is perhaps less well known that willows can also grow as dwarf shrubs a few centimetres high. The Thyme-leaved Willow is one of these diminutive trees, a bonsai, and is probably the smallest tree in Europe.
The Thyme-leaved Willow grows only 1–2 cm high. It forms an underground network of rhizomes and forms creeping branches, some of which grow underground. At less than 1 cm, its leaves are the smallest among the native willow species.
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Willow contains salicin, an organic substance that is broken down in the intestine and converted into salicylic acid in the liver. Salicylic acid has a pain-relieving effect and is used in the production of acetylsalicylic acid, which is known for its use as an active ingredient in aspirin and other medicines.
The Thyme-leaved Willow is widespread in Southern Europe. In Switzerland, it grows on calcareous, stony grassland and on scree. It is very common both on the Gornergrat and in the Alpine Garden. more information