Willow tree in early spring, Minnesota
© Jim Brandenburg/Minden Picture
A willowy welcome to spring
With winter officially over, we're weeping for joy right alongside this willow tree, its wispy new boughs signaling a healthy year of growth to come. About 400 species of willow grow across the globe in water-rich, seasonally chilly spots like here in Minnesota. With some willows soaring up to 70 feet tall and wide, cultures around the world have bestowed deep symbolism on the formidable trees, associating them with refuge, wisdom, or plenty—if not with ghosts, demons, or the spirit world. One thing all traditions can agree on: When a willow sprouts bright green wisps like this, it's a welcome symbol of spring's arrival.