Developing uses for wood wastes could enhance utilization of low value renewable materials while creating opportunities for rural development. Small diameter willow stems have little use in China, but they could be combined with high density polyethylene to create wood plastic composite mats for decorative applications. These mats could be used in exterior, above ground exposures, but would still require some level of resistance to decay and mold. The potential for using desert willow (Salix psammphila) from Inner Mongolia as the supporting material for plastic composite matting was evaluated in decay and mold tests. The resulting mats were highly susceptible to attack by decay fungi, and exhibited susceptibility to mold especially where the willow was exposed on the surface. The results suggest that these products have some potential for applications where they are more protected from moisture but would need supplemental treatment in wetter exposures.
Keywords: desert willow, Salix psammphila, high density polyethylene, mold, fungal decay