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Salix alba, popularly known as "white sauce", belongs to the family Salicaceae.
We can find it in template areas, such as central and southern Europe, North Africa, North America and western Asia.
It is found in damp places, such as streams and riversides, and can't live in extreme temperatures.
It is a deciduous tree that can grow up to 25 meters.
It has elongated branches and a trunk that is robust, straight, thin and brown-gray.
Its leaves are simple, lanceolate, long and with a serrated margin. Their arrangement is alternate.
The leaves' upper face is green and glabrous, and on the underside are white and pubescent.
They lose their leaves during the Autumn months, coming back in the spring from March.
It's a dioecious plant, that means that it has male and female unisexual flowers on different feet, both presenting an inflorescence in the form of catkins. The flowers don't have petals or sepals.
The male flowers are gold and have two stamens with free filaments.
The female flowers are greenish, presenting a gynoecium bicarpelar and they contain an ovary glabrous supero with two stigmas.
They bloom in spring, and in June or July the fruit ripens.
The fruit is simple, in form of a ovoid gray capsule. The seeds are sprayed into the air, once the capsule is opened.
From the bark of Salix alba is obtained salicin, substance that origins the acetylsalicylic acid, active principle of drug that is commercially known as "aspirin".
The salicin has many properties: antipyretic, analgesic, anti-rheumatic and anti-inflammatory.
It is also known for its anticoagulant properties, used in cardiac pathologies.
Its catkins have a sedative action, being used in menstrual pain.
The catkins are taken as a tea, while from the bark the salicin is extracted by decoction.
Its soft and light wood is used for making different utensils, like matchsticks or toothpicks.
Its young branches are used in basketry to make baskets.