Britain’s Most Spectacular Trees

Britain's most spectacular treesOur green and pleasant land is home to many tree species, each with their own unique characteristics and features.

It would be difficult for us to pick a favourite – but if we were to pit them against each other, which would come out top?

A study by the Tree Register of the British Isles did just that, revealing the UK’s biggest, oldest, tallest and rarest trees.

The research identified the country’s ‘champion trees’ – those that top the rankings in categories including height, girth, age and size.

So which trees are the reigning champs?

Britain’s tallest tree

At the time of the study, the country’s tallest tree was a fittingly-named grand fir located beside Loch Fyne in Argyll. It was planted in the 1870s and now stands at a proud 211ft (64.3m).

The fir, which stands in Ardkinglas Woodland Gardens, is thought to have been the tallest tree in the UK since before the last ice age.

However, it seems its lofty status may now be under dispute. Forestry Commission Scotland said in 2014 that a Douglas fir in Reelig Glen, near Inverness, was now the country’s tallest tree at 217ft (66.4m). 

There are plenty of worthy contenders for the spot, and experts predict that both these trees may be usurped within a decade by firs planted in Snowdonia in the 1920s.

We’ll be keeping an eye out to see how the rankings change over the coming years – although we’re not sure it will be particularly exciting to watch…

Britain’s oldest tree

Yew’ll never believe what species is at the top of this category (sorry).

Three trees share the number one spot – all of them yews, all of them in churchyards and all of them around 5,000 years old.

The wizened yews are at Discoed in Powys, Fortingall in Perthshire, and Llangernyw in Conwy. At such an impressive age they’re thought to be the oldest living organisms in Europe.

Their fame doesn’t end there. Local legend claims that biblical celeb Pontius Pilate was born in the shade of the Fortingall yew.

Britain’s rarest tree

Britain is home to several tree species of which only a single specimen remains.

One of these is the Audley End oak (Quercus audleyensis). Planted in 1772 at Audley End in Essex, the lonely tree has been identified as a hybrid of holm oak and sessile oak.

Attempts have been made to grow new trees from cuttings, but all have failed after a few years. It seems the Audley End oak is doomed to live out its days in solitude.

Britain’s most spreading tree

An oriental plane tree at Corsham Court in Wiltshire covers an area almost as large as a football pitch.

Planted in 1757, the tree has an average spread of over 210ft (64m). It’s so huge that its lowest branches rest on the ground, where some have taken root.

Britain’s thickest tree

A pedunculate oak in Fredville Park, near Dover, has a trunk measuring 13ft (4m) across, giving it a circumference of 40ft (12.2m).

The chunky oak has been dubbed ‘Majesty’. It retains its majestic girth up to a height of around 20ft (6m) – but it’s completely hollow.

Britain’s biggest tree (in terms of volume of timber)

A sessile oak in the grounds of Croft Castle in Herefordshire is 115ft (35m) tall, with a trunk 9ft (2.74m) across.

Its volume is calculated at 3,800 ft³ (107.6 m³), making it not only Britain’s biggest tree – but also Britain’s biggest living thing.

Britain’s most spectacular trees 

Needless to say we’re suitably impressed by this Who’s Who of record-breaking trees.

These winning specimens are truly gods and goddesses among trees (did you know trees could be male and female?) – but that doesn’t mean we should neglect their less noteworthy counterparts.

If you have a tree that needs expert attention, get in touch with us today.

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