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Which Trees Are Native to the United Kingdom?

The development of tree species in the UK dates back thousands of years and has since contributed to the diverse and complex ecosystem which we have today. The climate of the country has naturally transformed since the Ice Age, cultivating trees that are best suited to the country’s natural landscapes.

To be considered native by specialists, the trees must have developed naturally and without man’s influence – below we have highlighted species that can be easily spotted throughout the vast landscapes.

Quercus robur - English Oak

The English oak is a classic national emblem and is the UK's most common tree, found from city green spaces to rural countryside. It is a large deciduous tree capable of growing up to 40 metres tall. It supports more life than any other native tree due to the vast number of insects and animals that live on or within it.

Acer campestre - Field Maple

The Field Maple is the UK’s only native maple, found all over the country in different forms, including hedging, multistem, and as a standard form. It is a deciduous tree with lush green, lobed leaves that turn golden yellow in autumn. The light-brown flaky bark and uniformly brown shoots are distinctive.

Alnus glutinosa - Common Alder

The alder tree thrives in moist grounds near rivers, ponds, and lakes, making it a great choice for wet woodlands and streams where its roots help prevent soil erosion. It is often conical in shape and can reach over 20m in height over a 60-year lifespan.

Fagus sylvatica - Beech

Fagus sylvatica is a large deciduous tree known for its smooth grey bark and spreading crown. It forms a natural habitat for rare wildlife and is an essential part of complex and diverse ecosystems.

Taxus baccata - Yew

The Yew is an evergreen conifer tolerant of a wide range of conditions and ideal for hedging and topiary. Its red berry-like fruits attract birds in winter and its dark green needles are flat and lanceolate.

Betula pendula - Silver Birch

One of the first trees to regenerate after the Ice Age, the Silver Birch is deciduous with elegant drooping branches and small triangular leaves that turn golden yellow in autumn. It is known for its peeling white bark.

Sorbus aria - Whitebeam

The whitebeam, although native, is a rare tree in the UK. It is classified as a priority species with leaves that turn to a yellow-brown in autumn and are among the first to fall.

Sambucus nigra - Elder

Elder trees are commonly found in UK woodlands and rural areas. They are deciduous, can grow to a height of 15 metres, and have toothed leaves that turn golden yellow in autumn.

Corylus avellana - Hazel

Hazel is a deciduous shrub found in hedgerows across the UK. It can reach heights of around 10 metres but is extremely tolerant to heavy pruning, making it suitable for smaller spaces.

Fraxinus excelsior - Ash

The ash tree is extremely common in the UK, known for its resistance to pollution and often used in urban landscaping projects. Recent concerns over Ash dieback have led to restrictions on its planting.