Interesting that the Eden Project blog on native trees – describes ‘native’ as at home: they’ve lived here for thousands of years and they’re happy .... totally makes sense ...
|Yggdrasil, the world of Ash|
Norse - see tree in Wiki
I have to say back in the 50s my parents planted an eucalyptus tree .... before any of us really thought about the damage ‘foreign’ trees would do ... eucalypts are fast growers, they suck up water like nothing on earth – which can damage building foundations ... I wonder how the house is now!
To satisfy my own needs I’ve been wanting to write about our British trees for some time ... so all of these trees are extremely beneficial to a range of birds, small mammals, insects, butterflies and moths, bees and then there will be an odd interesting snippet or two.
We are all aware that throughout the world much research is being conducted into the health and medicinal properties of many plants – and the same is being done with our native plants.
Alder comes first: it’s a deciduous tree, loving damp soil in which it grows quite fast ... in days gone by its timber was used as a lure for woodworm ... the worms enjoying the alder rather than the cupboard!
Did you know that mainly Alder pilings form the foundation of the Italian city of Venice?
|Ash - Fraxinus Ornus|
Ash comes next ... the tree revered by the Vikings. The wood is very springy and can withstand sudden shocks, so is great for snooker cues and hockey sticks.
Apparently down here in Sussex – the tree is known as the Widow Maker because the large boughs would often drop without warning ... I suspect Health and Safety would have taken care of that now ... just cut the tree down and be done with it = sad, but true.
The English Oak need I say more than ‘the teeming world of the oak tree - a veritable haven for wildlife – just one tree can live and support so much life for up to 250- 500 years’. My post says it all ...
|Oak Leaves with Acorns|
Forty oaks have been planted between the Olympic Park and Much Wenlock, Shropshire, in honour of the modern Olympic Founder, Baron de Coubertin.
The Hawthorn or May tree is a particularly useful hedging plant ... especially for agricultural use – as its spines and close branching render it effectively stock and human proof.
|Hawthorn (L), Blackthorn (R). Hawthorn has leaves before|
flowers; Blackthorn flowers before leaves.
c/o Skills for Wildlife.com
Its haws are commonly made into jellies, jams and syrups, wine or to add flavour to brandy.
We had the cultivated versions – deep pink and white - as small trees growing up the side of the driveway ... must have been terrible for my mother to keep tidy with all the prickles! They did look glorious when in full flower.
|Common Hazel - from Thome,|
Flora von Deutschland, Osterreich
und der Schweiz, 1885
The tree also has more practical uses as its berries are thought to benefit the heart and lower blood pressure – plenty of research is being done.
Hazel trees – give us wonderful hazel nuts ... granted we share them with garden friends such as squirrels and dormice ... and chocolate – but we know where that deliciousness goes ... down little red lanes!
In days gone by – stocks of hazel nuts were taken on board ships to add to the mariners’ diet.
The Romans cultivated hazelnuts ... the Kentish cobnut only being introduced in 1830 ... yet the recent discovery of large-scale Mesolithic nut processing, 9,000 years ago, was found in a midden on the island of Colonsay in Scotland ... showing hazels are definitely a native tree.
|Holly for festive cheer|
Holly – a festive tree to cheer our houses up with the contrasting shiny green leaves and red berries –it too acts as a deterrent with its spiny leaves.
This tree has a longer lineage ... going back into Gondwana land days – before my time! Fossils have shed a great deal of light on the holly’s travels through the epochs ...
Early bagpipes were made from the wood of holly trees.
|Rowan and a bunch of berries|
The Rowan is a tough tree that dares to grow where others cannot ... in pagan days it used to be planted near houses to ward off witches – but wherever we find it, it looks so attractive in the landscape with its wealth of red berries ... from which it gets its old name of “bird catcher”.
Walking sticks were often made from Rowan.
|Silver birch stand|
I love our next tree – the Silver Birch – the fast growing papery barked white tree found in our landscapes. This was my fun place to be as a tree climbing youngster – up amongst the branches, swaying with the wind ...
Catch your haddock and smoke it amongst the silver birch embers, while supping silver-birch wine ... then tell your sagas under this pioneering tree so often planted to stabilise the land.
|Lime tree in flower|
Small-leaved lime is one of our most important native trees – it is considered an indicator of ancient woodland, which is becoming increasingly rare. A valuable mono-floral honey is produced by bees using the trees.
Perhaps the lime’s best known use today is for its beneficial herbal linden flower tea used as an anti-inflammatory in a range of respiratory problems.
|This environmental art installation in Belgium,|
at the Wenduine Dunes, known as "Sandworm"
is made entirely of willows
Our last mentioned native tree is the Willow – fast growing with so many varieties to choose from: weeping, goat, twisted, even cricket bat trees. They are so graceful as they sway in the breeze, catching the music of the wind through their weeping branches.
Willows survive in the dampest of places – often being found in water-logged riverside gardens and parks. As we planted eucalypts ... the Australians planted willows – this now considered invasive species is being removed.
|Pollarded willow with a crop of|
withies ready for harvesting
A Withy or withe is a strong flexible willow stem that is typically used in thatching as a deterrent to woodworm.
Withes are traditionally used to mark minor tidal channels in British harbours and estuaries. In many places they are still in use today and are often marked on navigation charts ... as reflected in the name Wythenshawe, outside Manchester.
|Yew - showing 27 annual growth rings|
- dark heart wood, pale sapwood
Going on around the spectacular events of the Diamond Jubilee, the Olympics and shortly the Paralympics ... Britain has been showcasing the Cultural Olympiad ...
... where the Olympic Park with its trees will provide the structure for an amazing art work ... which will mark the passing of time through their annual ring growth – an open air art work for our descendants to view in this new park. A post to follow ...
Eden Project: Native Trees to grow in your garden
Aspects of the British Countryside my 2011's A - Z Challenge:
My blog post on A is for Ash - 2011's A - Z Challenge
Another post I wrote on Hazelnuts: Witches, Hazels and Helmets
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories