How well do you know the trees around you? It’s not difficult to lean to recognise our native British trees and bushes – there are only likely to be twenty to thirty native species in the area you live, and probably less than a dozen common species. The shapes and sizes of trees and the way they change with the seasons is what makes trees endlessly fascinating. When trees grow together in woodlands they make one of the richest habitats for wildlife.
Trees in our cities help keep the air clean by filtering out pollution – they also give us shade and shelter and attract wildlife to the heart of our towns and cities.
Oak: Oaks can live to a great age, often more than 500 years. These ancient oaks are frequently hollow with much dead wood and are vital habitats for invertebrates, bats, lichens, fungi and birds.
Beech: One our most beautiful trees, especially in autumn, when the leaves turn a wonderful golden brown. The fruit of the beech tree is known as mast and provides a valuable food source for birds such as finches in winter time.
Ash: This tree can be recognised in winter by its black buds and distinctive seeds known as ‘ash keys’. Ash woodland supports many wildflowers which grow in the dappled shade given by this tree.
Birch: There are two species of native birch, the silver birch and the downy birch. Both have silver-white bark. Look for ‘witches brooms’ – distinctive twiggy bundles which develop in its branches.
Holly: Easy to recognise with distinctive prickly dark green waxy leaves and red berries in winter on the female trees. It was traditionally considered unlucky to cut a holly tree down but its leaves and berries were brought indoors for good luck at Christmas.