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Native Irish Trees

Native Irish Trees

Native Irish Trees

When designing a landscape scheme we try and incorporate as many native Irish species of trees as is possible. Below is a list of trees that are native here.

Also there is lots more information to be found on TreeCouncil.ie

Careful selection is important. Things like location, soil type and exposure most be considered when choosing the correct tree type.

Fraxinus excelsior ; Ash

Ash is a large, common deciduous tree, probably the most common farmland tree. It is one of our most common trees and is found in both hedgerows and woodlands. Ash will grow on a wide range of soils but thrives best on deep alluvial soils. Its wood is used to make hurleys. Each year almost half a million hurleys are used in Ireland. It is late to come into leaf. They can grow up to 45m high.

Populus tremula; Aspen

It is not a common tree in Ireland, however they are a native tree. Populus are deciduous trees, mostly very fast-growing and large, with male and female catkins on separate trees, opening before the leaves. Male catkins are the more ornamental, female ones can be a nuisance from the cottony, wind-blown seeds.

Betula pendula; Birch

There are two species of birch in Ireland, silver birch and downy birch. The most common is the downy, which, like silver birch, is a delicate tree with fine branches and small leaves. In springtime, the flowers (catkins) appear and remain on the tree and in autumn they contain the mature seed. Birch is a colonising tree, and is thought to be one of the first trees to have made it to Ireland after the last ice age; they are more tolerant of poor soils than most trees, and can act as a nurse species to other species which take longer to establish. They are quick growing, but short lived, and grow to around 25 metres.

Prunus padus; Bird cherry

The bird cherry is so called because it is only birds which can eat the fruit. It is mainly found in the North West, and is a small tree, reaching about 15 metres. The preferred habitat of bird cherry is damp, base-rich soils or on limestone, and it often occurs in wet flushed areas, frequently with alder trees (Alnus glutinosa). It also grows alongside roads and paths, and is usually seen growing amongst other native broad-leaved trees such as birch (Betula spp.) and rowan (Sorbus aucuparia).

Prunus avium; Wild cherry

Often found on the edges of woods and in old hedges, they prefer fertile limey soils, so are most often found in the east and midlands.Their cherries are edible. A fast growing tree it can easily reach 10m (30ft) in 10 years ultimately reaching 25m in ideal conditions.The greenish yellow-brown wood is very popular in the furniture industry and is also much used as veneer for music instruments and different tools.

Malus sylvestris; Crab apple

A small tree of about 15 metres when mature, crab apple is similar to wild cherry in that it is more often found on the edges of woods than in them. The apples are edible, but very bitter. They are a small, rounded tree with ovate leaves and clusters of pink-tinged white flowers to 5cm across in late spring, followed by yellow-green, sometimes red-flushed fruits 2-3cm across.

Sambucus nigra;Elder

Elder is a small tree that has white lowers in spring with dark purple to black berries in the autumn. It grows to approximately 6m in height. It is a common hedgerow tree, and is not common in developed woodland as its wood is of no commercial use.

Corylus avellana; Hazel

Hazel has an ancient history. With Scotspine, it formed the dominant woodland after the ice age but was gradually displaced by ash, oak and elm woods. Generally an understorey tree, hazel is often found underneath a canopy of ash or oak. It is a shrub more than a tree, reaching a height of about 5 metres. The nuts are of course edible, but are produced far less by understorey trees than by trees which are less in the shade.

Ilex aquifolium; Holly

Holly is one of our few evergreen trees, famous for its red berries (only produced by the female plant) it is common as an understorey tree, but is also a very hardy tree, and can be found on mountainsides where most other trees would perish. It grows to around 15 metres. If the indiscriminate cutting of whole trees, now a practice at Christmas time, continues, the holly could soon become an endangered species.

Quercus robur Pedunculate oak

The oak is one of our largest and longest lived (second to yew in the longevity stakes). Pedunculate oak is the less common of our two native oak species; it is found on heavier, more alkaline soils in the midlands. Pedunculate oak produces acorns on stalks, which will distinguish it from sessile oak acorns which do not have stalks.

Quercus petraea;Sessile oak

Found on less fertile, more acidic soils than the pedunculated oak, sessile oak is more common, but found mostly on the west coast. Oaks can reach a height of 40 metres, and can take several hundred years to mature, but provide a rich habitat for other species. Its wood is famed, and the timber and bark has been put to many uses down the years.

Sorbus aucuparia;Rowan

Also known as the mountain ash, due to its leaf structure. A small tree, it is tolerant of poor soils (which is where it gets the name mountain ash) and makes a good coloniser. The berries provide food for birds, which help spread the tree.

Pinus sylvestris;Scots pine

Arguably once extinct from Ireland, most scots pine in Ireland has been reintroduced from Scotland. A tall tree, of about 40 metres, it is also relatively long lived. It is tolerant of marginal land, and provides food for red squirrels, who eat its seed.

Euonymus europaeus; Spindle

A small tree growing to 6m, spindle is not a common tree, but is notable for its colourful pink berries and orange seeds.

Arbutus unedo;Strawberry tree

An tree with an unusual range, in that it is widespread in Spain and Portugal, and also in the southwest of Ireland but nowhere else in the British Isles, it is an evergreen tree which produces unusual fruits which resemble strawberries. These are edible, but not a pleasant snack. It is a small tree.

Sorbus aria; Whitebeam

A relative of the rowan, the whitebeam also produces edible red berries, but it has a different distribution in that it prefers the south east of the country. It reaches a height of around 20 metres.

Salix species; Willow

Willow forms a continuum of species, which are often difficult to distinguish. A tree which is very tolerant of waterlogged soil, it can often be found in marshy ground. Famous for its use in weaving baskets, the wood is very pliable and the tree can be coppiced to produce willow whips for this purpose.

Taxus baccata;Yew

Famously used in Britain to make longbows, the wood is durable and flexible. Ireland's only native yew wood is in Killarney. Famously long lived (Some trees in Ireland are believed to be up to 1,000 years old),yew is associated with graveyards not because the toxic foliage will keep livestock out of them (as is widely believed), but because it is famously able to rejuvenate itself, an unusual trait in a conifer.

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