Willow on Sydkusten
The silhouette of long rows of willow trees shaped by the wind is an icon of southern Skåne. The trees are often lining the side of the road or the border between two fields.
In the 17th century willow was first planted in Skåne. During the 18th and 19th centuries willow plantings became quite common. As farming increased at the expense of forestry, there was a lumber shortage in Skåne. The fast growing willow tree was the solution to many problems. It provided material for fencing, basket weaving and other handicrafts, as well as fire wood. In addition, it provided shelter from the wind and helped prevent the soil from flying away. The willow was usually planted along property borders and along roads, in spaces not already farmed.
The explanation for their special shape, with a short trunk and a crown full of thinner branches is that the crowns are cut. Every 2-4 years the branches are copped. These branches were used as animal feed. Some willows were copped at ground level and therefore turned into bushes, not trees.
As fields grew larger and machines were increasingly used in farming, the number of willow trees was reduced. Today you are most likely to see them when you drive on the smaller dirt roads. They are often leaning, from age and wind, and sometimes almost hollow. They remind us about what farming here was like 200-300 years ago.