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Value of trees  Aesthetics Trees are one of the most important natural elements in the lowland urban landscape of most of the Royal Parks.
Sense of continuity They are the biggest and oldest plants in the Royal Parks, linking past, present and future.
Improving health Tree canopies trap dust, absorb pollutants, provide shade and reduce noise.
Benefitting the environment By absorbing carbon dioxide, trees help to slow the rate of global warming. They reduce wind speeds, lower urban air temperatures and prevent flooding by absorbing storm water.
Boosting wildlife A habitat for birds, bats, insects, fungi and lichen. A mature oak, like the ones in Richmond Park, can support 500 different species.
Strengthening communities Trees contribute to the distinctive character of a place and encourage local pride. They are useful teaching resources, places to play and a focus for group activities.
Tree numbers  Total number About 170,000
Different varieties 250+
Area of woodland About 1,100 acres (450ha)
Total veteran (old or very large) trees About 1,500
Annual tree budget About £450,000
Main species  Native and naturalised species Oak, beech, silver birch, London plane, horse chestnut, sweet chestnut.
Smaller trees and shrubs Cherries, crab apple, holly and hawthorn.
Tree management objectives   To improve the tree resource by:
  • Encouraging best practices
  • Conservation of habitats
  • Maintaining variety
  • Increasing the tree population
Reducing risks
Management strategy   Tree management work in the Royal Parks is programmed and pro-active. This is more effective than waiting until problems are reported. Trees are routinely surveyed. Work is prescribed to maintain and improve the overall condition of the tree population and protect amenity.
Felling   Healthy trees are not normally felled unless this is part of an overall management plan of removal and replacement, involving development or restoration of heritage and planned landscapes.
Pruning   Carried out only where there is a clear objective, such as to:
  • Improve crown structure and form
  • Reduce risk of falling branches
  • Prolong useful life expectancy
  • Remove dead, dying or diseased wood
  • Influence flowering or fruit production
  • Create or expose important or historic views
Maintain, create or enhance wildlife habitat
Tree planting  General considerations
  • The local character of the park should be preserved or enhanced
  • Historic planting patterns should be respected and enhanced
  • Existing tree planting
  • Nature conservation
  • Recreational interests
  • Archaeological and historical features
  • Capability of the site to sustain tree growth
  • Other land use constraints
Choosing tree species
The Royal Parks tree management teams identify the most appropriate species for each park. The Royal Parks have a high proportion of native species but there is a rich history of rare and unusual species, varieties and cultivars and this is sustained where possible to maintain diversity and add interest.

Interesting trees in The Royal Parks

Bushy Park  Big cone pine Pinus coulteri Location: Groups near Duck Bridge, Pheasantry Woodland Garden.
Interesting facts: Produces huge cones weighing up to 5 ½lb (2.5kg). A native of the United States, planted in memory of the World War II American base in Bushy Park.
Common lime Tilia x europaea
Location: Lines alongside Chestnut and Lime Avenues.
Interesting facts: Limes in Bushy Park support mistletoe, which is increasingly rare in London.
Horse chestnut Aesculus hippocastanum
Location: Lines alongside Chestnut Avenue.
Interesting facts: The flowering of horse chestnuts in May is marked by the local festival, Chestnut Sunday, which includes a parade along Chestnut Avenue.
Montpelier maple Acer monspessulanum Location: Crocodile Glade, Pheasantry Woodland Garden.
Interesting fact: At 43ft (13m), it is believed to be Britain's tallest Montpelier maple. (Average UK height 32ft or 10m).
Swamp cypress Taxodium distichum Location: Taxodium Walk alongside the King's River, Pheasantry Woodland Garden.
Interesting facts: It sometimes makes knobbly aerial roots (pneumatophores), which were thought to help the tree breath when it grows in water, but now believed to stabilise the tree. Examples in Greenwich, Richmond, St James's, The Regent's Parks.
Greenwich Park  Cedar Cedrus 'ssp. Location: The Flower Garden.
Interesting facts: Collection of about 30 trees, including Atlas, Lebanese and deodar cedars, planted in Victorian times when exotic evergreens were fashionable.
Gingko Ginkgo biloba Location: The Flower Garden
Interesting facts: This species is the only surviving member of a tree family that first appeared on earth at least 270 million years ago.
Horse chestnut Aesculus hippocastanum Location: Lines alongside Blackheath Avenue.
Interesting facts: Replaced the avenue's original sweet chestnuts or elms on Blackheath Avenue. First introduced to northern Europe from the Balkans in 1570s.
Queen Elizabeth oak Location: South east end of Lovers Lane.
Interesting facts: Remains of a tree, believed to be an oak, thought to have been growing in the 12th century. It died in the 19th century and fell over in 1991. Said to be where King Henry VIII danced with Anne Boleyn and where their daughter, Queen Elizabeth I, picnicked. Greenwich Park has eight veteran or ancient oaks.
Sweet chestnut Castanea sativa Location: Individual trees in the avenues and The Flower Gardens.
Interesting facts: Ancient trees originally planted along the avenues when André le Nôtre redesigned the park for King Charles II in the 1660s. One has a girth of 7.26m. There are 52 veteran sweet chestnut trees in Greenwich Park.
Hyde Park  Common lime Tilia x europaea Location: Many of the formal avenues.
Interesting facts: This species is the tallest broad-leaved tree in Britain. The stringy inner bark was traditionally used to make mats and ropes.
Red oak Quercus rubra Location: West edge of The Parade Ground
Interesting facts: Marks the spot of the Reformers' Tree, an ancient tree burnt down during the Reform League Riots in 1866. The remaining stump became a notice board for political demonstrations.
Silver birch Betula pendula Location: Group in the Holocaust Memorial Garden, south of Serpentine Road.
Interesting facts: Revered by pagan and Germanic tribes as having sacred powers of renal and purification.
Silver maple Acer saccharinum Location: East of the Old Police House.
Interesting facts: Produces a rich sap that can be boiled to make maple syrup. The British climate means the tree rarely yields much sugar and it is usually planted for its brilliant red and gold leaves in autumn.
Weeping beech Fagus sylvatica 'Pendula' Location: The Dell.
Interesting facts: Known in the park as the Upside Down Tree because its branches descend from the crown and look like roots.
Kensington Gardens  Indian bean tree Catalpa bignonioides Location: Next to the Serpentine Gallery and alongside the Long Water.
Interesting facts: Produces thin bean-like pods up to 15 inches (40cm) long. Leaves are up to 10 inches (25cm) long and 6 inches (15cm) wide and turn bright yellow in autumn. Originates in south eastern United States.
London plane Platanus x hispanica Location: Along Lancaster Walk.
Interesting facts: Lancaster Walk was originally planted by Queen Caroline, wife of King George II in the 1730s. It was extended for the Great Exhibition in 1851 and later diverted to frame the Albert Memorial. It is still possible to see the original line.
Medlar mespilus germanica Location: North Flower Walk near Marlborough Gate and Buck Hill.
Interesting facts: Introduced to Britain by the Romans. Produces a fruit that looks like a large rosehip and is eaten when partially rotted.
Sweet chestnut Castanea sativa Location: Group in the Chestnut Quarter, near the Physical Energy statue.
Interesting facts: Many planted in the 1730s when Queen Caroline redesigned the gardens. The bark has a distinctive spiral twist. Weeping beech Fagus sylvatica 'Pendula' Location: South Flower Walk.
Interesting facts: Features in J M Barrie's first Peter Pan story, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens as the tree where Peter fell asleep after he escaped to the Gardens from his nursery.
Richmond Park  Black poplar Populus nigra ssp. betulifolia Location: Throughout the park
Interesting facts: Britain's rarest timber tree. Female trees are especially rare. Richmond Park has five veteran females, which are outstanding.
English oaks Quercus robur Location: Throughout the park.
Interesting facts: Traditionally pollarded (cutting back the crown of the tree above the reach of deer) to stimulate growth of timber for harvesting. This prolonged the life of the trees and created very wide trunks. One of the oaks is 700-800 years old and was included by Trees For Cities in the list of 20 great trees of London in 2008.
Hornbeam Carpinus betulus Location: Hornbeam walk, a line of trees south west of Pembroke Lodge.
Interesting facts: The maze at Hampton Court Palace is said to have originally been planted with hornbeams. The name hornbeam is old English for hard tree or wood.
Sweet chestnut Castanea sativa Location: Around the edge of Sidmouth Wood and throughout the park.
Interesting facts: Lord Sidmouth, the deputy ranger of Richmond Park from 1813, planted sweet chestnut trees in the park as food for the deer.
Tulip tree Nyssa sylvatica Location: Wilson's Glade, Isabella Plantation.
Interesting facts: Discovered by the plant hunter Ernest Wilson in the early 1900s in the Far East. Wilson's Glade in the Isabella Plantation has many of his discoveries.
Willow Salix sp. Location: Surrounding the ponds.
Interesting facts: The east edge of Lower Pen Pond has pollarded crack willow Salix fragilis. There are weeping willow Salix sepulcralis, goat willow Salix caprea and the red and amber stems of Salix alba surrounding Peg's Pond in the Isabella Plantation.
St James’s Park  Black mulberry Morus nigra Location: A group on a slight mound, south west of the Blue Bridge
Interesting facts: Commemorates the failed attempt by King James l in the 16th century to establish an English silk industry. He ordered people to plant black mulberry trees instead of white mulberry, the preferred plant of silk moth larvae.
Fig Ficus carica Location: Near Storey's Gate and at the north end of the Blue Bridge
Interesting facts: The Storey's Gate fig is thought to be one of the biggest in Britain.
Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna Location: Throughout the park
Interesting facts: This area was known as Thorney Island, possibly because of its hawthorn trees.
London plane Platanus x hispanica Location: Throughout the park, along Birdcage Walk and The Mall
Interesting facts: London plane trees in the south east corner of the park date from the 1820s. Nelson Mandela planted a London plane in the park during a visit in 1996.
Tibetan cherry Prunus serrula Location: Single tree near Storey's Gate
Interesting facts: The tree has a deep red bark, which Royal Parks apprentices were once said to be told to polish to make it shine.
The Green Park  London plane Platanus x hispanica Location: Throughout the park, including avenues along Piccadilly, Constitution Hill and between Devonshire and Canada Gates.
Interesting facts: Highly resistant to drought, compaction and pollution, making it very suitable for urban parks.
Black poplar Populus nigra Location: South of Piccadilly.
Interesting facts: Britain's rarest timber tree, recognisable by its gnarled trunk.
Holly Ilex aquifolium Location: Planted as a hedge along Piccadilly
Interesting facts: The flowers and berries provide food for birds and insects.
Silver lime Tilia tomentosa Location: Throughout the park.
Interesting facts: Strongly scented flowers attract insects and the trees are said to buzz or hum in summer.
Silver maple Acer saccharinum Location: Throughout the park.
Interesting facts: See Hyde Park for description.
London plane Platanus x hispanica Location: Throughout the park, with good examples surrounding the main lake.
Interesting facts: In 2008 a London plane in The Regent's Park was named by Trees For Cities as one of the 20 Great Trees of London. The Belsize Walk, linking The Regent's Park to Parliament Hill, is marked by plaques inscribed with the shape of the plane tree leaf.
Small-leaved lime Tilia cordata 'Golden Spire' Location: Along the edge of the Avenue Gardens.
Interesting facts: Planted as part of the restoration of the Avenue Gardens in the 1990s.
Willows Salix sp. Location: The edge of the main lake (weeping, silver and white willows) and the lake in Queen Mary's Gardens (Babylon and golden weeping willows).
Interesting facts: Cricket bats are made from a species of willow. Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) paid to plant a new willow tree next to the cricket pitch in The Regent's Park in 2007 after 11 trees were lost in winter gales.
Shakespeare's tree Location: Primrose Hill
Interesting facts: Oak tree planted in 1964 on the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth. It replaced an earlier tree, planted on the 300th anniversary, which died.
Cherries Prunus Location: Throughout the park, particularly Queen Mary's Garden and the Community Wildlife Garden near York Bridge.
Interesting facts: The cherry blossom in The Regent's Park is a highlight of London's parks in Spring. Also found in St James's Park, The Pheasantry Woodland Garden in Bushy Park and the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park.

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