The word ‘native’ in this context has to be used loosely because many of the tree species that you would consider as native to this country are not. There are intellectuals out there who believe that only those species that existed here before the formation of the English Channel – approximately 20,000 years ago - actually qualify as our true British natives.

However, there is a slight problem with that definition because prior to that specific period in time the British land mass – as it was then – was either covered in frozen tundra or melting glaciers. These conditions would have made the spread and growth of existing trees virtually impossible.

Scots pine
The so called ‘true natives’ – as far as I can ascertain - are list below.

Scots Pine – Pinus sylvestris
Common Juniper – Juniperus communis (S)

Trees that would have quickly colonised the wet mudflats after the last ice-age had passed are as follows

Bay Willow – Salix pentandra
Black Popular – Populus nigra
Crack Willow – Salix fragilis (S)Common Beech – Fagus sylvatica
Downey Birch – Betula pubescens
Elder – Sambucus nigra (S)European Aspen – Populus tremula
European Larch - Larix europaea
Silver Birch – Betula pendula
European or Black Alder –Alnus glutinosa (S)
Common Hornbeam – Carpinus betulus
Goat Willow – Salix caprea (S)Grey Willow – Salix cinerea (S)
Wych Elm – Ulmus glabra
English Elm – Ulmus procera

Silver birch
Trees considered useful by early colonists, merchants and occupying forces.

Apple – Malus sylvestris
Common Ash – Fraxinus excelsior
Blackthorn – Prunus spinosa (S)Common Box – Buxus sempervirens (S)Common Lime - Tilia cordata
Damson – prunus insititia
English Oak – Quecus robur
Field Maple – Acer campestre
Gage - Prunus domestica
Hawthorn – Crataegus monogynea (S)
Hazel – Corylus avellena (S)
Holly – Ilex aquifolium (S)Large leaved Lime – Tilia platyphyllos
Osier Willow – Salix viminalis
Pear – Pyrus pyraster
Purple Willow – Salix purpurea
Rowan – Sorbus aucuparia
Sessile Oak – Quercus petraea
Small leaved lime – Tilia cordata
Spindle – Euonymous europeus (S)Sycamore – Acer pseudoplatanus
Common Walnut – Juglans regia
Wild Cherry – Prunus avium

Strawberry tree
The more recent introductions

Bird Cherry – Prunus padus (S)Sweet Chestnut – Castanea sativa
Strawberry tree – Arbutus unedo (S)Common Lime - Tilia cordata
Large leaved Lime – Tilia platyphyllos
Whitebeam - Sorbus aria (S)
White Willow – Salix alba
Wild Service tree – Sorbus torminalis
Yew tree – Taxus baccata (S)

All of these groups - apart from the last - would merit inclusion with regards to individual or government woodland planting schemes. However for those of you who have limited space but would still like to make a difference by planting native trees then consider growing the smaller species. My suggestions have a (S) for ‘small’ listed after them – small being a tree that grows between approximately 3 and 5 metres.


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