We all love trees, but it’s good to learn which trees are which, and so you know what wildlife to look out for, which ones to avoid planting near pets, and a respect for trees, always leads to better ‘tree welfare’ (not throwing rubbish near them etc). Paul Wood is London’s expert on street trees. He runs The Street Tree (a local website), London Tree Walks (from an hour to a whole day), London’s Street Trees ( a guide to the city’s 300-odd species) and Great Trees of London Map (rare species, magnificent oaks, a 2000-year old yew and flowering cherries).
Ghost Trees: Nature & People in a London Parish is by Bob Gilbert who began to record the natural world of his inner city patch, when he moved to the East End. This This personal exploration of trees has helped to shape the London district of Poplar. Drawing from natural history, poetry and painting, he reveals the hidden influences that lost landscapes (the ‘ghost trees’) have had on the shape of the city.
If planting trees, see toxic plants to avoid near pets (also avoid cocoa/pine/rubber mulch and fresh compost near pets). Fruit trees & pips are toxic to pets, as are many trees (including oaks with acorns and yew) to horses. Never grow indoor trees/foliage near windows, to help stop birds flying into windows.
- Alder Trees are small trees that are often found by rivers, they have small pine cones.
- Beech trees are tall with big branches that host wildlife and birds.
- Elder trees have small scented petals, used to make elderflower, used in English wines and organic cordial.
- Hazel trees are found near hedgerows, with warm leaves. The nuts are loved by dormice and woodpeckers, squirrels, mice and voles.
- Hawthorn trees are found near hedgerows and form barriers, as natural hedges. Last century, farmers planted around 200,000 miles of them, but most have now gone. With beautiful blossoms, these trees are loved by birds for nesting away from predators. Many moths can only live on this tree, and the pollen is also loved by bees.
- Holly (toxic to pets) is a spiky shrub, lives 300 years.
- Horse Chestnut originated from Turkey and drops conkers in autumn (toxic to pets and horses). With white spring flowers, some say it looks a Christmas tree with lights.
- Larch trees came from Europe. These conifers are adored by birds, moths and squirrels. The bark is pink-brown.
- Lime trees are originally from the Mediterranean. The sweet scents waft over many parks, and people can admire the pretty heart-shaped leaves. Bees love this tree, as do moth caterpillars. It can live up to 500 years.
- Silver Birch trees are pretty unique, so you likely know them already. Mushrooms often grow on the silver trunk. Birds like to feed on insects, found in the branches.
Oak trees live for up to 1000 years, and are often found in large parks. It gives home to many creatures and drops acorns.
- Rowan trees are fast-growing trees that are mostly found in northern England and Scotland. It prefers cold weather (it grows well in Norway) and has beautiful red berries.
Sycamore trees are not native, but grow here nonetheless. Very tolerant of wind and rain, you’ll often find these lovely trees near coastal areas. They are loved by moths, bees, birds and mammals for their pollen.
Weeping Willow is often the favourite tree for many, its beautiful falling branches teeming with gorgeous leaves. It often drapes into the water, to shelter native wildlife.