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Native Irish Trees – Ireland’s Changing Landscape

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Ireland’s landscape has been depleting over the centuries, but it still remains home to a variety of native trees. Our selection of native Irish trees include: Common Oak, Holly, Hazel, Alder, Blackthorn, Cherry, Birch, Whitethorn, Crab-apple, Rowan Mountain Ash, Yew, Scots pine, Willow, Aspen, Whitebeam, Lime, Ash.

While all of these trees were once commonly found across Ireland, the ever-changing climate and destructive human activity have both contributed to a decline in Ireland’s native tree population.

That being said, the national tree of Ireland and formerly the most common tree species native to the country, the Oak, is now rare to come by as very few natural Oak woods are left.

This is primarily due to the overharvesting of Oak trees, particularly Sessile Oak, for its wood since it is visually pleasing and incredibly durable. Oak trees tend to live for 200 to 250 years.

The Oak tree was once so prominent that the Irish used it in the Celtic Tree of Life symbol.

Today, the Oak has been replaced by the Ash tree as the most common native tree found in Ireland. Perhaps one explanation for why Ash trees are so common is because they can grow in a wide range of soils and live for up to 200 to 300 years but are under a lot of pressure now with the Ash Die Back disease.

The Silken Thomas Yew is believed to be the oldest tree native to Ireland. Experts have estimated this tree to be nearly 800 years old, which explains its prominence in Irish history.

According to Irish folklore, Silken Thomas sat beneath this tree before surrendering to King Henry VIII. Irish folklore also includes tales of how this tree possesses magical properties.

Many native Irish trees were also considered to be sacred by the ancient Celts. Notably at the top of the list of trees that were sacred to the Celts were Oak and Ash trees. Oak trees symbolized truth, courage, and wisdom while Ash trees signified healing.

Alder trees symbolized the balance between men and women and Crab-apple trees represented youthfulness.

Holly trees were cherished by the ancient Celts for their protective qualities. Many native Irish trees were also the center of Irish folklore and mythology stories.

There are many mixed woodlands throughout Ireland, so learning how to identify native Irish trees is important. To do so, the simplest technique to use is to examine their leaves.

For instance, oak and ash trees tend to be the last trees to get their leaves every spring. Looking at the flowers and seeds on Irish trees can also be helpful as alder, hazel, birch and poplar have catkins before their leaves and blackthorn, hawthorn, and elder have flowers with petals.

Some trees, such as oak and hazel trees, have nuts that fall and spread their seeds. Studying the tree’s bark texture and color, along with the height of the tree, can also be key factors in the identification process.

For example, oak and ash trees both have indented brown bark. Alternatively, there are apps available that are designed to help identify native Irish trees.

Considering the fact that native Irish trees play such an important role in Ireland’s landscape, culture, and history, gifting an Irish tree is the perfect gift to give a loved one for any occasion. Irish Trees provides you with the opportunity to give someone a standout gift that will be everlasting, with an array of eight different native Irish trees to choose from (Common Oak, Holly, Hazel, Alder, Whitethorn, Crab-apple, Rowan Mountain Ash) for a variety of occasions.

Article Researched and Written by Charlotte Morten.

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