A Guide to British Tree Species
Trees play a huge role in Great Britain’s environment and culture, providing the country with clean air, food, fuel, shade, a home to birds and animals and best of all, they add beauty to the countryside and provide a sense of well being to the nation.
A Guide to British Tree Species: Britain Known for Its Many Forests
There are more than 1,500 forests across England and there are also many learning opportunities and fun projects and activities for everyone to get involved in, and which centre around trees.
Look at Google Expeditions for instance, a virtual tour of the forest that both children and adults can visit from the classroom or their home. The exciting, adventurous tours allow you to explore the forest as well as check out forestry careers using virtual reality.
Exciting Events Draw Attention to Trees
National Tree Week, first launched in 1975, is held from 23rd November to 1 December each year with a host of enthralling events, large and small. This is to draw attention to the importance of trees to our planet.
The event also includes the planting of thousands of trees. Last year in 2019 there were more than 8 million trees in London, from English Oaks to London Planes to the Sycamore, Ash and many other magnificent species.
Certainly, in London, it is part of the mayor’s efforts to increase London’s tree canopy by 10% by 2050 and to also maintain the city as the world’s first National Park City.
Sixty-or-so Native British Trees
Those British trees that colonised the land after the last ice age are known as native trees and those brought to the UK are known as non-native.
All British tree species provide a variety of leaf shapes and colours. Possibly the tallest broad-leaved tree is the common lime which you’ll find in streets and parks and which provides plenty of shade while your take in the aroma of the sweetly scented flowers.
Did you know that there are more than 60,000 species of trees in the world? Experts tell us that Britain’s native tree flora is made up of species which include 29 broadleaved species? They say there are 60 or so trees in Britain that are native, and as already mentioned, these subspecies or hybrids have established themselves naturally.
We look at some of Britain’s most identifiable native species –
🌑 Alder (Alnus glutinosa)
This tree is found around marshy areas and woodland and has female cones that remain on the tree all year round.
🌑 English oak (Quercus robur)
This beautiful tree is Great Britain’s 2nd most common tree, being particularly numerous in central and southern England. These trees with their distinctive leaves with rounded lobes can grow to 40m.
🌑 Beech (Fagus sylvatica)
The Beech is usually found in well-drained, dry soils. The leaves of the Beech have hairy edges and the tree produces 4-lobed seed cases.
🌑 Silver birch (Betula pendula)
You’ll find the Silver Birch around dryish woodland and a distinctive feature of this tree is its white bark with triangular-shaped leaves.
🌑 White willow (Salix alba)
The White Willow likes growing close to rivers. The tree has oval leaves and in Biblical times was seen as a tree of celebration.
Britain’s Oldest Tree
It is amazing when you discover the age of some British trees, and old Yew tree stands in the churchyard of Fortingall Parish Church, Perthshire.
The stunningly beautiful old tree is thought to be between 3,000 – 9,000-years-old, and in 1769 it was 52 feet in circumference, although the tree as it stands in 2020 is no longer as large as it is believed that long ago people would saw away at its branches and trunk.
The yew is the longest-living species, but sweet chestnuts as well as oaks are also known for their longevity and can live to be more than a thousand years of age.
Ancient Trees Important Part of British Environment
The ancient trees of the United Kingdom are a massively important part of the British environment and they have formed essential habitats for thousands of different animal and bird species, relying on the trees for their survival. As the trees age and cavities form, a new host of creatures make their homes in these cavities.
The Woodland Trust Fights for Tree Protection
These habitats can literally take centuries to form, and they are irreplaceable if lost to fire or to some other calamity.
The trees have immense ecological value, but sadly, while some individual trees are safeguarded, a lot of them are unprotected from destruction. The Woodland Trust fights to secure the legal protection of the awesome trees.
A Renewed Interest in the Outdoors
Fortunately, there is a growing interest in conserving trees and therefore the need is great to plant and preserving the many different tree species of Britain.
Interest in the outdoors has also increased and landscape design has also prompted many private homeowners and businesses to start investing in landscaped gardens which includes the growing of large trees.
Managing Sick Trees
Of course, just like humans, trees succumb to disease and many trees can be affected. These diseases have resulted in extra work for tree surgeons and arborists.
This industry has its fair share of unscrupulous so-called tree surgeons who are willing to take a tree down just to earn some money and they come without any knowledge, experience and certificates to show.
It’s imperative to call reputable tree surgeons, and at GraftinGardeners, we’re the legit experts to turn too. We know exactly which trees can be cut down and which are protected.
Our tree surgeons have undergone an assessment of competence to work with chainsaws and we comply with all safety and health requirements. We keep up to date with all developments in the industry as we work to rid the British countryside of diseased trees.
Article was written by Conner D.