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Tree planting & building a living willow tunnel with Thames21 & Friends of Firs Farm

Why Are we Planting Trees?

Here is a list of the trees that we are going to be planting today, pictures of each specie (numbered) are on page 3– please also have a look at our tree planting map, which will be available at the information table.

Notes for biodiversity: the reason a tree’s origin status e.g. native is listed, is because native trees have evolved in the same setting they are planted in today and therefore, many native species of birds, invertebrates (bugs), plants, mushrooms, mosses and lichen have evolved alongside their native trees (and often food source) creating a niche environment i.e. greater biodiversity

  1. Blackthorn Prunus Spinosa. The blackthorn is a native tree, commonly known as Blackthorn, or Sloe. Prunus relates to the species genus: being in the apple and cherry family, and spinosa refers to its unforgiving spines– hence the name! The Blackthorn is a native species and therefore supports an array of biodiversity ; the species can live for up to 100 years and grows to a height of 6-7 metres– making a perfect understory tree, producing edible sloe berries in autumn that have been traditionally used to flavour gin.
  2. The Dog Rose Rosa Canina: The Dog Rose is a thorn scrambling climber, native to the U.K. capable of climbing up to three metres, using the plants/ shrubs around it to gain height. Flower are large and open, coloured pink/ white, are a vital source of nectar and typically well scented.  The gall: in the autumn/ winter, you may see what look like a mass of green/ red threads protruding from the stem– these are in fact galls, caused by a wasp (Robin’s Pincushion).
  3. Mullberry Morus: The tree is native to Asia– having been introduced in the 16th century.

Hornbeam Carpinus betulus: Hornbeam is a deciduous broadleaved species, native to the south of the U.K.. The common name, Hornbeam, related to the hardness of the timber the species produces– ‘horn’ meaning hard and ‘beam’ being the old English word for tree. Mature trees can reach a height of up to 30 metres and can live for up to 300 years!  Hornbeam is wind pollinated and the tree has both female and male flowers– monoecious-  found on the same tree; the seed is held in a small ‘nut’, held in a paper-like, winged bract—similar to a sycamore, but with three lobes.

  1. Beech Fagus: Native to the South of the U.K. and Wales, Beech can live up to 1,00 years if regularly coppiced (cut back) and although they are broadleaved deciduous trees, young and/ or regularly coppiced beech, can hold their leaves year round– making them ideal for hedging. Beech creates a dense canopy woodland, which are associated with rarer species, including orchid and butterfly varieties . They support many native niche species, such as truffle fungi, mosses and lichen; the age to which they can live ,allows them to accommodate wood boring/ deadwood specialist species . Beech has often been associated with the Queen of British Trees, where Oak is the King.
  2. Hazel Corylus: Hazel has typically been used for coppice: the process of regularly cutting re-growth from the coppice stool (see picture), promotes an abundance of flexible stems, flexible enough for weaving. A by-benefit of hazel coppice Iis that it creates a perfect understory habitat for ground nesting birds– hazel has long been associated with the Door Mouse, which is also known as the Hazel Doormouse.
  1. Rowan Sorbus aucuparia: The Rowan is native to the U.K. and northern and western Europe, can grow up to 15 metres and live up to 200 years. The the Rowan reaches high into the canopy and so has been known as mountain ash– Fraxinus Excelsior (Ash)- excelsior meaning reaching for the heavens– despite the species not being related. Pollination occurs initially through invertebrates (insects) and then through birds. Rowans are typically found in regions of higher altitudes, such as North and West of the U.K.– particularly in the highlands of Scotland.
  2. (English) Oak Quercus Robur: There are many native species of Oak tree, one of which is English Oak– if you look into the ancient hedgerows (strips of trees segmenting the fields) you will be able to see some English Oak. English Oak is considered to be one of the best-known and most-loved native tree; it is common through the south and central U.K. forming deciduous woodland. The English Oak can support up to 300 associated species e.g. species that have specifically evolved to use the tree in some way.
  3. Dogwood Cornus: a small native broadleaved shrub, known for it’s striking berries—known as ‘dogberries’- and stems, which are often used ornamentally, typically found in hedgerows, dogwood is native to the U.K. And promotes biodiversity within the understory.
  4. Silver Birch Betula Pendula: Silver birch is native broadleaved deciduous tree; it has a glistening silver bark, split dark coloured fissures (see picture), which could be compared to stretch marks– remnant scars from bark stretching in growth. Silver birch can sustain over 300 species  and is a food plant  for many invertebrates and it’s light canopy promotes the growth of  ground flora (ground dwelling plants). Betula is the family name for the silver birch, and pendula is the species name– it refers to the in which the catkins dangle from the long thing, sweeping branhces : pendulum.
  5. Norwegian Maple Acer platanoides: The Norway Maple can was introduced in the 17th century for the non-native’s strength of timber, often used to make furniture. The Norwegian Maple can be easily confused with the Sycamore, the most easy way to correctly identify is to look at the angle on the seed pod- Sycamore’s have a V-shaped wing pod. The leaves are well used by moth caterpillars and seeds provide food for small mammals and birds
  6. Foxglove Tree: Grown as a statement tree owing to it’s large leaves and foxglove like flowers, the tulip tree, native to China, is a fast-growing, deciduous specie. To achieve the large leaves the tree is known for, the tree can be hard-pruned every year, but doing so annually, will result in a loss of flowers– as buds are produced on growth from the previous year– quite the dilemma!
  7. Black Alder Alnus glutinosa: Native to the U.K. the black alder is perfectly suited to swamp-like conditions, as the roots do not rot when water-logged, instead the timber grows in strength; the strong roots of alder can help to stabilise soils, particularly in areas of potentially high erosion e.g. river bed . Black alders can live up to 60 years, reaching a height of 28 metres. Black alder can also thrive in drier areas, such as scrubland and woodland edges and due to the nitrogen fixing bacteria associated with this species, alder can thrive in nutrient poor conditions, where other species would be mal-adapted.

By Louise Dennis

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