i'm running some plant experiments at home + in the process went down this rabbit hole that led me to one of my favorite discoveries of late. i'll skip the rabbit hole bit and tell you what i found at the bottom. the latest bottom anyway :: willow tree magic.
no wonder squirrels don’t get headaches: in 5th century B.C., the Greek physician, Hippocrates, wrote that chewing bark of a willow tree could relieve pain + fever.
german pain management: in 1829, the effective ingredient, salicin, was successfully isolated from willow bark. end of the 19th century, the Bayer company in Germany trademarked a stable form of acetylsalicylic acid, calling it “aspirin”.
native americans go + help everything thrive: Native Americans used willow bark for toothaches + applied it to the source of other pains. But they also recognized that you can actually grow a whole new willow tree by taking a stem and sticking it in moist soil. the hormones in willows cause rapid rooting, and they discovered these same hormones could induce rooting in other plants, too. to harness this power, they made a tonic called “WILLOW WATER".
willow water recipe: gather 2 cups of pencil-thin willow branches. cut to 1-3 inch lengths. steep twigs in a half-gallon of boiling water overnight. pour the water on newly planted trees. or soak cuttings you wish to root, overnight. etc, etc - store left over water in refrigerator for up to 2 months.
worth a mention: willow is often planted next to ponds + in standing water for its water-cleaning properties.