National Park Mystery Plant 19 Revealed

You were challenged to identify this month's mystery plant using just the clues in these two sentences:

You're drooping like a wilted flower, and I'm fast growing tired of your sneezing. For crying out loud, just take two aspirins, drink lots of water, and go to bed.

The answer is weeping willow, a fast growing, water loving tree noted for its gracefully drooping or dangling branches, rounded shape, and bark containing a chemical that was instrumental in the development of aspirin.

Seven readers supplied the correct answer. Anon 12345 took the brass ring. The others who nailed it were Yellowstone ED, Anon out west, tomp2, RangerLady, suki, and Mark1959, in that order. Good job, everybody.

Eight words in these two odd sentences provide the key information:

"You're drooping like a wilted flower, and I'm fast growing tired of your sneezing. For crying out loud, just take two aspirins, drink lots of water, and go to bed."

Some Weeping Willow Facts

The weeping willow was developed from willows brought to the United States from China. Quite a few hybrids have been produced. Golden weeping willow (Salix x sepulcralis ) is the most frequently planted of the various cultivars.

The weeping willow is now very widely distributed in this country. It is found in natural areas as well as landscaped ones. Acadia National Park, National Mall & Memorial Parks, Everglades National Park, and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore are just a few of the many National Park System units that have weeping willows.

The weeping willow's rounded shape, slender olive-green leaves, and long, gracefully drooping braches have made it popular as an ornamental tree.

Weeping willows are among the fastest-growing shade trees. They commonly add six to eight feet of height per year before topping out at around 35-50 feet.

The large, dense root mats of the weeping willow are voracious consumers of water. Although weeping willows can grow in well-drained soils (and even tolerate moderate drought), they especially thrive in soggy areas and are typically found near streams, ponds and wetlands. They absorb standing water and can tolerate fairly lengthy periods of flooding.

Weeping willows are considered unwanted invaders in many natural areas that have acquired them via dispersion of seeds or rooting stems and twigs. During floods, willow thickets can divert water outside main channels and accelerate erosion. When the dense root mats of the trees spread into the bed of a watercourse, they can significantly slow the flow of water and decrease aeration (a problem worsened in autumn by leaf decay that reduces dissolved oxygen).

Willow bark has been used in folk medicine for several thousand years because of its pain relieving and anti-inflammatory benefits. These effects are produced by salicin, the chemical that was instrumental in the development of aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) more than a century ago.