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J. A. Pitcher and J. S. McKnight
Black willow (Salix nigra) is the largest and the only commercially important willow of about 90 species native to North America. It is more distinctly a tree throughout its range than any other native willow; 27 species attain tree size in only part of their range (3). Other names sometimes used are swamp willow, Goodding willow, southwestern black willow, Dudley willow, and sauz (Spanish). This short-lived, fast-growing tree reaches its maximum size and development in the lower Mississippi River Valley and bottom lands of the Gulf Coastal Plain (4). Stringent requirements of seed germination and seedling establishment limit black willow to wet soils near water courses (5), especially floodplains, where it often grows in pure stands. Black willow is used for a variety of wooden products and the tree, with its dense root system, is excellent for stabilizing eroding lands.