Whether you're writing poetry under a willow tree or daydreaming about climbing a majestic oak, Britain's trees are one of the most dominant features of our landscape.
These stunning and powerful plants have towered over the countryside all the way from London to York for millions of years. Today, they offer us a combination of beauty, shade, shelter, and of course, one of the most versatile building materials known to man. So, how do you tell your English Elm from your common beech? Let's find out.
English Oak (Quercus Robur)
The most common oak in Britain, the English oak is almost as fundamental to our country's identity as the queen. This incredible tree is set apart by its robust and generous trunk, it's sturdy crooked branches, and a rich flood of leaves. You've probably picked up an acorn or two from an English oak in the past or marvelled at its soft yellow flowers in the spring.
English Elm (Ulmus Minor Var. Vulgaris)
Another tree synonymous with the English countryside, this one has a bit of a morbid backstory. A few centuries ago, people often associated the English elm with death and melancholy, which is hard to imagine when you consider its vibrant brunette-coloured trunk and tickled-pink flowers. Maybe it's because the branches of the tree have a habit of falling almost without warning.
Crack Willow (Salix Fragilis)
The crack willow is similar in style to the white willow. This tree grows primarily in wet soils close to lakes and woods. It's named for the sound that the branches make when they fall to the ground. Though the sound of a falling twig might make you jump, the crack willow is still a beautiful tree, and a great place for a picnic in the shade thanks to its excessive foliage.
Common Beech (Fagus Sylvatica)
Don't let the word "common" fool you. This mature beech is a superstar capable of reaching 130 feet in height. Some of the oldest trees in the UK are beech trees, and they're truly a sight to behold, particularly when their bright-green leaves sprout in May. The common beech is also known for its amazing colours during autumn when it sets the countryside ablaze with vibrant oranges and reds.
London Plane (Platanus x Hispanica)
The London Plane isn't a British native, but it's a migrant we've happily welcomed into the country. The tree was delivered from Spain in the 17th century and planted for its ability to cope well with urban conditions. The Plane comes with bright-green serrated leaves that grow up to 6 inches in width. You can still spot these trees in London today.
Scots Pine (Pinus Sylvestris)
You can probably guess where the Scots Pine is most popular. Many years ago, Scotland was covered in a forest of ancient Caledonian trees. Unfortunately, only about 50,000 acres of these stunning trees remain. Capable of living for up to 700 years, these towering structures feature a warm orange bark and evergreen needles that have a slightly bluish tinge to them.
Field Maple (Acer Campestre)
Field maples are the trees responsible for the helicopter-like leaves you used to play with as a child. These trees are the only maple breed native to Britain, and their sap can be used to make the all-important pancake syrup. When they flower, field maple trees are covered in top to bottom with small yellow blossoms, which help them shine during the spring.
Common Hazel (Corylus Avellana)
Looking for a tree with a touch of magic inside it? The Common Hazel was previously believed to have magical powers. Although it can't grow as tall as other trees on this list (up to 40 feet), it's still a beautiful tree, complete with long, pale yellow catkins that appear during the spring months. This is also one of the bushiest trees you'll see in the British countryside.
Horse Chestnut (Aesculus Hippocastanum)
Did you know that the classic horse chestnut tree came to Britain from Turkey in the 1600s? This tree is common in gardens, parks, and they also appear alongside roads in many UK towns. You can tell the horse chestnut tree apart thanks to its conkers encased in a spiky bright-green husk. The very sight of this tree is enough to spark fond memories of conker collecting in Autumn, just before Halloween.
The Common Ash (Fraxinus Excelsior)
Finally, one of the tallest trees we have here in Britain, the common ash is distinguished by its soft-green leaves and spiky clusters of purple-tipped flowers that appear during the spring. The ash is a spectacular tree, and its particularly sturdy wood is excellent for making the handles of tools like axes and hammers.
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