Like trees, shrubs are also woody plants, but shrubs tend to be shorter than trees when mature, and have multiple stems that are smaller in diameter as compared to the single, larger stem (or "bole") that characterizes tree species. Although many of these may look the same at first glance, upon closer inspection they are in fact quite different, and well-adapted to their respective niches in the environment.
Willows are common throughout Alaska, with dozens of species found across the state. They provide a food source for browsers, like the moose, and can also be consumed by humans but are not commonly favored because of their unpalatable flavor. However, what the willow lacks in flavor it makes up for in remarkable medicinal qualities that have been known to humans for thousands of years. The primary active component in the willow is related to what is found in modern aspirin pain relievers, and has similar anti-inflammatory and pain reducing qualities which can be used to treat a number of conditions.