Know Your Trees
Here is a list of the most common types of tree we work with on a daily basis.
Acacia (False Acacia)
Acacia is a genus of shrubs and trees belonging to the subfamily Mimosoideae of the family Fabaceae, first described in Africa by the Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus in 1773.
The plants tend to be thorny and pod-bearing, with sap and leaves typically bearing large amounts of tannins.
Alder (Alnus Glutinosa)
Alnus glutinosa is a tree that thrives in moist soils, and grows under favourable circumstances to a height of 20–30 m, exceptionally up to 37 m, though often less. It is characterized by its 5–10 cm short-stalked rounded leaves 6–12 cm long, becoming wedge-shaped at the base and with a slightly toothed margin.
When young they are somewhat glutinous, whence the specific name, becoming later a glossy dark green. As with some other plants growing near water it keeps its leaves longer than do trees in drier situations, the glossy green foliage lasting after other trees have put on the red or brown of autumn, which renders it valuable for landscape effect. As the Latin name glutinosa implies, the buds and young leaves are slightly sticky with a resinous gum.
Apple (Malus Domestica)
The apple is the pomaceous fruit of the apple tree, species Malus domestica in the rose family Rosaceae. It is one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits. The tree is small and deciduous, reaching 3 to 12 metres (9.8 to 39 ft) tall, with a broad, often densely twiggy crown.
The leaves are alternately arranged simple ovals 5 to 12 cm long and 3–6 centimetres (1.2–2.4 in) broad on a 2 to 5 centimetres (0.79 to 2.0 in) petiole with an acute tip, serrated margin and a slightly downy underside. Blossoms are produced in spring simultaneously with the budding of the leaves.
The flowers are white with a pink tinge that gradually fades, five petaled, and 2.5 to 3.5 centimetres (0.98 to 1.4 in) in diameter. The fruit matures in autumn, and is typically 5 to 9 centimetres (2.0 to 3.5 in) diameter. The center of the fruit contains five carpels arranged in a five-point star, each carpel containing one to three seeds.
The Ash is a native broadleaf and fairly abundant tree. When fully grown it is a tall and graceful tree with a light domed canopy. It often grows with other Ash trees and tends to grow smaller and thinner in these conditions. The Ash has characteristic delicate “leaflets” rather than single leaves.
Beech (Fagus Sylvatica)
Beech are large trees, capable of reaching heights of up to 49 m (160 ft) tall and 3m (10 ft) trunk diameter, though more typically 25-35 m (80-115 ft) tall and up to 1.5 m (5 ft) trunk diameter. A 10-year-old sapling will stand about 4 m (13 ft) tall. It has a typical lifespan of 150 to 200 years, though sometimes up to 300 years.
The appearance varies according to its habitat; in forest conditions, it tends to have a long, slender light-gray trunk with a narrow crown and erect branches, in isolation with good side light the trunk is short with a large and widely spreading crown with very long branches.
Birch (Betula Pendula)
Birch species are generally small to medium-size trees or shrubs, mostly of temperate climates. The simple leaves may be toothed or pointed.
The fruit is a small samara, although the wings may be obscure in some species. They differ from the alders (Alnus, other genus in the family) in that the female catkins are not woody and disintegrate at maturity, falling apart to release the seeds, unlike the woody cone-like female alder catkins.
Cedar (Cedrus Atlantica)
A tree up to 40 m high and up to 2 m in diameter. Bark on old trees fissured. Crown pyramidal, with few branches, open. Branches strongly ascending and relatively short; leading shoot erect and bent at the tip. Shoots thickly pubescent.
Leaves silvery bluish or green, usually not longer than 2.5 cm, between 19 and 28 in a whorl. Flowers appearing from June to September. Cones cylindrical, with level or concave top, 5-7 cm long, up to 4 cm wide, glossy, light brown, maturing in September and October and shedding seeds into the spring; seed scales about 3.5 cm wide, with tomentose keel. Seed 12 mm long and wing 12-15 mm long” (Vidakovic 1991).
Cherry (Prunus Avium)
The Cherry (Prunus Avium) is a deciduous tree growing to 15–32 m tall, with a trunk up to 1.5 m diameter. Young trees show strong apical dominance with a straight trunk and symmetrical conical crown, becoming rounded to irregular on old trees. The bark is smooth purplish-brown with prominent horizontal grey-brown lenticels on young trees, becoming thick dark blackish-brown and fissured on old trees.
The leaves are alternate, simple ovoid-acute, 7–14 cm long and 4–7 cm broad, glabrous matt or sub-shiny green above, variably finely downy beneath, with a serrated margin and an acuminate tip, with a green or reddish petiole 2–3.5 cm long bearing two to five small red glands. The tip of each serrated edge of the leaves also bear small red glands. In autumn, the leaves turn orange, pink or red before falling. The flowers are produced in early spring at the same time as the new leaves, borne in corymbs of two to six together, each flower pendent on a 2–5 cm peduncle, 2.5–3.5 cm diameter, with five pure white petals, yellowish stamens, and a superior ovary; they are hermaphroditic, and pollinated by bees.
The fruit is a drupe 1–2 cm in diameter (larger in some cultivated selections), bright red to dark purple when mature in mid summer, edible, variably sweet to somewhat astringent and bitter to eat fresh; it contains a single hard-shelled stone 8–12 mm long, 7–10 mm wide and 6–8 mm thick, grooved along the flattest edge; the seed (kernel) inside the stone is 6–8 mm long. The fruit are readily eaten by numerous birds and mammals, which digest the fruit flesh and disperse the seeds in their droppings. Some rodents, and a few birds (notably the Hawfinch), also crack open the stones to eat the kernel inside. All parts of the plant except for the ripe fruit are slightly toxic, containing cyanogenic glycosides.
Chestnut (Aesculus Hippocastanum)
Chestnut trees grow to 36 m tall, with a domed crown of stout branches, on old trees the outer branches often pendulous with curled-up tips. The leaves are opposite and palmately compound, with 5-7 leaflets; each leaflet is 13-30 cm long, making the whole leaf up to 60 cm across, with a 7-20 cm petiole.
The flowers are usually white with a small red spot; they are produced in spring in erect panicles 10-30 cm tall with about 20-50 flowers on each panicle. Usually only 1-5 fruit develop on each panicle; the fruit is a green, softly spiky capsule containing one (rarely two or three) nut-like seeds called conkers or horse-chestnuts. Each conker is 2-4 cm diameter, glossy nut-brown with a whitish scar at the base.
Conifer (Lawson’s Cypress)
Chamaecyparis Lawsoniana Wortel or more commonly knows as Lawson’s Cypress is a fine conifer for hedging that has a beautiful blue-green colour. Grown as root plants. Quickly grows into a dense bushy hedge that is easy to maintain. Grows up to 6m. Height on delivery is approx. 25-35cm.
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus Globulus)
The bark shreds often, peeling in large strips. The broad juvenile leaves are borne in opposite pairs on square stems. They are about 6 to 15 cm long and covered with a blue-grey, waxy bloom, which is the origin of the common name “blue gum”.
The mature leaves are narrow, sickle-shaped and dark shining green. They are arranged alternately on rounded stems and range from 15 to 35 cm in length. The buds are top-shaped, ribbed and warty and have a flattened operculum (cap on the flower bud) bearing a central knob.
The cream-colored flowers are borne singly in the leaf axils and produce copious nectar that yields a strongly flavored honey. The fruits are woody and range from 1.5 to 2.5 cm in diameter. Numerous small seeds are shed through valves (numbering between 3 and 6 per fruit) which open on the top of the fruit. It produces roots throughout the soil profile, rooting several feet deep in some soils. They do not form taproots.
Hawthorn is a large genus of shrubs and trees in the rose family, Rosaceae, native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere in Europe, Asia and North America. It is the state flower of Missouri.
The name hawthorn was originally applied to the species native to northern Europe, especially the Common Hawthorn C. monogyna, and the unmodified name is often so used in Britain and Ireland. However the name is now also applied to the entire genus, and also to the related Asian genus Rhaphiolepis.
Holly (Ilex Aquifolium)
The Holly (Ilex Aquifolium) is an evergreen tree growing to 10-25 m tall and 40-80 cm (rarely 1 m or more) trunk diameter, with smooth grey bark. The leaves are 5-12 cm long and 2-6 cm broad, variable in shape; on young plants and low branches, with three to five sharp spines on each side, pointing alternately upward and downward; on higher branches of older trees with few or no spines except for the leaf tip, often entire.
The flowers are dioecious, white, four-lobed, and pollinated by bees. The fruit is a red drupe 6-10 mm diameter, containing four pits; although mature in late autumn, they are very bitter so are rarely touched by birds until late winter after frost has made them softer and more palatable. They are slightly poisonous for people.
Hornbeam (Carpinus Betulus)
It is a small to medium-size tree reaching heights of 15-25 m, rarely 30 m, and often has a fluted and crooked trunk. The bark is smooth and greenish-grey, even in old trees. The buds, unlike those of the beech, are 10 mm long at the most, and pressed close to the twig. The leaves are alternate, 4-9 cm long, with prominent veins giving a distinctive corrugated texture, and a serrated margin.
It is monoecious, and the wind pollinated male and female catkins appear in May after the leaves. The fruit is a small 7-8 mm long nut, partially surrounded by a three-pointed leafy involucre 3-4 cm long; it matures in autumn. The seeds often do not germinate till the spring of the second year after sowing. The hornbeam is a prolific seeder and is marked by vigorous natural regeneration.
Lime (Tilia X Europaea)
Despite its name, this tree has nothing to do with the lime fruit, Citrus aurantifolia. The European, or common lime, is a natural hybrid of the small-leafed lime (Tilia cordata) and the large-leafed lime (Tilia platyphyllos). The word lime in this case is a form of the word linden, which is derived from the German word ‘linde’ meaning rope.
Although some Tilia species have been resident in the British Isles for thousands of years, most of the limes found in Britain today were imported from the Netherlands in 17th and 18th centuries. At this time, they were a must-have in the gardens of stately homes either on their own or in ‘lime avenues’.
Oak (Quercus Roba)
Oaks have spirally arranged leaves, with a lobed margin in many species; some have serrated leaves or entire leaves with a smooth margin.
The flowers are catkins, produced in spring. The fruit is a nut called an acorn, borne in a cup-like structure known as a cupule; each acorn contains one seed (rarely two or three) and takes 6–18 months to mature, depending on species.
Pear (Pyrus Communis)
European pear trees are not quite as hardy as apples, but nearly so. They do however require some winter chilling to produce fruit.
For best and most consistent quality, European Pears are picked when the fruit matures, but before they are ripe. Fruit allowed to ripen on the tree often drops before it can be picked and in any event will be hard to pick without bruising. They store (and ship) well in their mature but unripe state if kept cold and can be ripened later, a process called bletting. Some varieties, such as ‘Beurre d’Anjou’, ripen only with exposure to cold.
Pines (Pinus Sylvestris)
It is an evergreen coniferous tree growing up to 25 m in height and 1 m trunk diameter when mature, exceptionally to 35-45 m tall and 1.7 m trunk diameter and on very productive sites.
The bark is thick, scaly dark grey-brown on the lower trunk, and thin, flaky and orange on the upper trunk and branches. The habit of the mature tree is distinctive due to its long, bare and straight trunk topped by a rounded or flat-topped mass of foliage. The lifespan is normally 150–300 years, with the oldest recorded specimens (in Sweden) just over 700 years.
The shoots are light brown, with a spirally arranged scale-like pattern. On mature trees the leaves (‘needles’) are a glaucous blue-green, often darker green to dark yellow-green in winter, 2.5-5 cm long and 1-2 mm broad, produced in fascicles of two with a persistent grey 5–10 mm basal sheath; on vigorous young trees the leaves can be twice as long, and occasionally occur in fascicles of three or four on the tips of strong shoots. Leaf persistence varies from two to four years in warmer climates, and up to nine years in subarctic regions. Seedlings up to one year old bear juvenile leaves; these are single (not in pairs), 2–3 cm long, flattened, with a serrated margin.
Plane (Platinus X Hispanica)
The London Plane is a large deciduous tree growing to 20–35 m (exceptionally over 40 m) tall, with a trunk up to 3 m or more in circumference. The bark is usually pale grey-green, smooth and exfoliating, or buff-brown and not exfoliating.
The leaves are thick and stiff-textured, broad, palmately lobed, superficially maple-like, the leaf blade 10–20 cm long and 12–25 cm broad, with a petiole 3–10 cm long. The young leaves in spring are coated with minute, fine, stiff hairs at first, but these wear off and by late summer the leaves are hairless or nearly so.
The flowers are borne in one to three (most often two) dense spherical inflorescences on a pendulous stem, with male and female flowers on separate stems. The fruit matures in about 6 months, to 2–3 cm diameter, and comprises a dense spherical cluster of achenes with numerous stiff hairs which aid wind dispersal; the cluster breaks up slowly over the winter to release the numerous 2–3 mm seeds.
Plum (Prunus Domestica)
Prunus domestica (sometimes referred to as Prunus × domestica) is a Prunus species with many varieties. These are often called plums in common English, though not all plums belong to this species. Its hybrid parentage is believed to be Prunus spinosa and Prunus cerasifera var. divaricata.
Typically it forms a large shrub or a small tree. It may be somewhat thorny. It has white flowers, borne in early spring. The fruit varies in size, but can be up to 8cm across, and is sweet, rather acid in some varieties.
Poplar (Populus Nigra)
The bark on young trees is smooth, white to greenish or dark grey, often with conspicuous lenticels; on old trees it remains smooth in some species, but becomes rough and deeply fissured in others. The shoots are stout, with (unlike in the related willows) the terminal bud present.
The leaves are spirally arranged, and vary in shape from triangular to circular or (rarely) lobed, and with a long petiole; in species in the sections Populus and Aegiros, the petioles are laterally flattened, so that breezes easily cause the leaves to wobble back and forth, giving the whole tree a “twinkling” appearance in a breeze. Leaf size is very variable even on a single tree, typically with small leaves on side shoots, and very large leaves on strong-growing lead shoots. The leaves often turn bright gold to yellow before they fall during autumn.
Rowan (Sorbus Aucuparia)
It is a small to medium-sized deciduous tree typically growing to 8–10 m tall, more rarely 20 m, and exceptionally to 28 m. The bark is smooth, silvery grey of young trees, becoming scaly pale grey-brown and occasionally fissured on old trees. The shoots are green and variably hairy at first, becoming grey-brown and hairless; the buds are conspicuous, purple-brown, and often densely hairy.
The leaves are pinnate, 10–22 cm long and 612 cm broad, with 9–19 (most often 13–15) leaflets; each leaflet is 3–7 cm long and 15–23 mm broad, with a coarsely serrated margin; they are variably hairy, particularly the petiole and leaf veins on the underside.
The hermaphrodite flowers are produced in large terminal corymbs 8–15 cm diameter with up to 250 flowers, the individual flowers 1 cm diameter, with five creamy-white petals, and are insect pollinated. The fruit is a small pome 6–9 mm (rarely up to 14 mm) diameter, green at first, ripening bright red in late summer, and containing up to eight (most commonly two) small seeds. It is diploid, with a chromosome count of 2n=34.
Spruce (Picea Abies)
It is a large evergreen coniferous tree growing to 35–55 feet tall and with a trunk diameter of up to 1-1.5 m. The shoots are orange-brown and glabrous (hairless).
The leaves are needle-like, 12–24 mm long, quadrangular in cross-section (not flattened), and dark green on all four sides with inconspicuous stomatal lines. The cones are 9–17 cm long (the longest of any spruce), and have bluntly to sharply triangular-pointed scale tips. They are green or reddish, maturing brown 5–7 months after pollination. The seeds are black, 4–5 mm long, with a pale brown 15 mm wing.
Acer pseudoplatanus (Sycamore or Sycamore Maple to distinguish it from other plants called sycamore) is a species of maple native to central Europe and southwestern Asia, from France east to Poland, and south in mountains to northern Spain, northern Turkey, and the Caucasus.
In Scotland the Sycamore is known as the Plane tree although it is not in fact a member of the Platanus genus. It is its apparent similarity to the plane that led to it being named pseudoplatanus, using the Ancient Greek prefix pseudo (false).
Walnut (Juglans Regia)
Juglans regia is a large deciduous tree attaining heights of 25–35 m, and a trunk up to 2 m diameter, commonly with a short trunk and broad crown, though taller and narrower in dense forest competition. It is a light-demanding species, requiring full sun to grow well.
The bark is smooth, olive-brown when young and silvery-grey on older branches, with scattered broad fissures with a rougher texture. Like all walnuts, the pith of the twigs contains air spaces, the chambered pith brownish in colour. The leaves are alternately arranged, 25-40 cm long, odd-pinnate with 5–9 leaflets, paired alternately with one terminal leaflet.
The largest leaflets the three at the apex, 10–18 cm long and 6–8 cm broad; the basal pair of leaflets much smaller, 5–8 cm long, the margins of the leaflets entire. The male flowers are in drooping catkins 5–10 cm long, the female flowers terminal, in clusters of two to five, ripening in the autumn into a fruit with a green, semi-fleshy husk and a brown corrugated nut. The whole fruit, including the husk, falls in autumn; the seed is large, with a relatively thin shell, and edible, with a rich flavour.
Willow (Salix Fragilis)
Willows, sallows, and osiers form the genus Salix, around 400 species of deciduous trees and shrubs, found primarily on moist soils in cold and temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere.
Most species are known as willow, but some narrow-leaved shrub species are called osier, and some broader-leaved species are referred to as sallow (derived from the Latin word salix, willow). Some willows (particularly arctic and alpine species) are low-growing or creeping shrubs; for example the dwarf willow (Salix herbacea) rarely exceeds 6 centimetres (2 in) in height, though spreading widely across the ground.