Broadleaf Trees

Alder (Alnus glutinosa)

A British native, the Common Alder is a fast-growing hardy tree that can reach to between 20 - 30m (60 - 100ft). Thriving in most soil types, it flourishes in heavy soil, preferring moist and damp locations, making it an ideal choice around rivers, lakes or low lying and exposed wetland.

With young trees up to 5yrs growing around 1m per year, the Alder needs good light and won’t tolerate shady locations. With its seeds providing a good source of food for wildlife, the Alder can produce male & female catkins during spring, turning to small cones in autumn, while keeping its dark green leaves well into winter.

Alder Buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula)

A hardy European native, the deciduous Alder Buckthorn is actually thornless. Often used in hedging due to its dense foliage, left as a small tree it can grow between 3 - 7m (10 - 23ft) with a 2 - 4m (6 - 13ft) spread. With a preference for wet soils, it thrives in open woodland, marshland and hedgerows with plenty of natural light with some partial shade.

The Alder Buckthorn’s small, green-white flowers appear around May/June and are a particular favourite for bees and butterflies. Once pollinated, the green fruits turn a bright red through the summer. Its glossy, dark green leaves turn a bright yellow before falling in the autumn, just as the fruits fully ripen to a near black colour, giving an excellent food source for birds.

Ash (Fraxinus excelsior)

Widespread throughout Europe, the Common Ash is well established in the milder climates across the British Isles. Typically growing to heights of 18m (60ft) or beyond, it does well in well-drained, moist soils, particularly those which contains chalk or limestone, and requires full sunlight.

Recognisable for its black buds in winter, Ash flowers appear dark, almost purple in colour in early spring. However, it’s usual for the leaves to open later in the spring, while falling earlier in the Autumn, often while still green. Due to their potential full size, Ash trees require open space and suit woodland or large gardens.

Aspen (Populus tremula)

A fast growing, medium sized tree, the Aspen will reach between 15 - 20m (50 - 65ft) when fully grown. It can also spread extensively through suckers, appearing anywhere up to 12m (40ft) away. Tolerant to most soil types, it’s preference is for heavy, wet soil and can cope with short periods in waterlogged earth. Preferring full sunlight, the Aspen doesn’t cope well with shade.

From grey catkins appearing in early Spring, the Aspen’s distinctive rounded leaves appear, creating a familiar rustle at the slightest breeze. Turning yellow in the autumn, the leaves often remain on branches for an extended period. Perfect for larger gardens or parkland, the Aspen is ideal for creating a natural windbreak.

Beech (Fagus sylvatica)

A large, full-bodied tree, the Beech can grow up to 30m (100ft) with an impressive spread of around 20m (65ft) if left to flourish. Though shade tolerant, it prefers an open location with full sunlight and moist, rich soil with good drainage. Easy to trim and prune from a young age, Beech is also a popular hedging plant.

Common across southern Britain, this hardy tree produces a full coverage of bright green leaves in the spring. Becoming a deeper green through summer, they eventually turn a glorious reddish-brown in the autumn. They’re also an attractive prospect for wildlife, providing a rich food source.

Bird Cherry (Prunus padus)

Being hardy and versatile, the British native Bird Cherry tree fares well in many different locations and is easy to spot in woods as well as hedgerows and even riverbanks. Growing well in moist, fertile soil and positioned in full or partial sun, it can reach up to 15m (50ft), making it ideal for larger gardens or parks.

With its spectacular white, almond-scented blossom, the Bird Cherry tree is a showstopper for a short period in the spring. Going on to produce small, black fruits in the summer, particularly enjoyed by birds, before its leaves turn a distinctive yellow-bronze, falling in the autumn.

Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa)

A small, deciduous tree native to the British Isles, the Blackthorn can grow up to 5m (16ft) in height. This hardy specimen is more commonly used as an easily maintained dense shrub, ideal for sturdy and secure hedging due to its tough, thorny branches. Growing well in many moist, yet well-drained soil types, Blackthorn can thrive in exposed or sheltered areas, if positioned in full sun.

Producing leaves in early spring, its white flowers appear shortly afterwards. Its sloe berry fruit ripens through September/October and is commonly used for jams and sloe gin. Blackthorn also attracts nesting birds and wildlife thanks to its thick, protective coverage and its rich source of food and pollen.

Black Poplar (Populus nigra)

This large, deciduous tree is native to the UK, particularly in the south, but is on the endangered list due to its declining numbers. When found, it’s commonly around exposed damp low-lying areas and riverbanks where it thrives in moist soil, where it can rapidly grow up to 30m (100ft) in height.

Both male and female trees flower with red (male) and yellow-green (female) catkins that pollinate by the wind. Female catkins then blossom with distinctive white fluffy seeds that fall in late summer. Its glossy, dark green leaves are a characteristic heart shape, and have a soft aromatic scent. However, its powerful roots may cause problems to building foundations and drainage systems, so suited to open areas with lots of space.

Broom (Cytisus scoparius)

The Common Broom will bring a glorious burst of colour to any garden or hedge. This native evergreen shrub is a nitrogen fixer that thrives in any well-drained soil while improving it for neighbouring plants at the same time. Situated in its preferred position of full sun, this tough and fast growing shrub can grow up to 3m (10ft) in height.

With an abundance of distinctive bright yellow flowers blossoming in May/June, its green seed pods mature to a dark brown, almost black colour, in the late summer before cracking open and dispersing its seeds. Often grown as an ornamental shrub, the Common Broom makes a lively addition to any garden.

Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)

This bushy shrub is a common sight in hedgerows and open woodland all over its native UK. Reaching heights of up to 10m (30ft) if left unpruned, this resilient specimen grows well in all soil types in either full sun or shade. Its thorny and dense structure is a practical addition to any garden, particularly hedging, while providing a rich food source for wildlife, including the Brimstone butterfly.

Naturally glossy leaves provide a dark green backdrop to the yellowy-green flowers which, after successful pollination, produce striking red berries. As the leaves turn yellow and fall in the autumn, the berries turn a shiny purple-black, providing a plentiful food source for birds.

Common Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)

One of the UK's most common hedgerow plants, the Hawthorn creates strong, thick hedging for farm or rural land when regularly pruned and maintained. It’s slow growing, but left to spread, it grows to a large shrub or small tree reaching heights of between 5 - 14m (16 - 45ft). A tough and hardy plant, the Hawthorn can handle planting in exposed areas, but prefers full sun and moist, fertile soil.

The Hawthorn’s leaves provide a glossy dark green backdrop for its white blossom, appearing in late spring. A favourite for bees, when pollinated it produces rich red fruits known as Haws. A good food source for birds, they ripen in September before the leaves turn yellow-red, falling in autumn.

Copper (Purple) Beech (Fagus sylvatica atropurpurea)

A hardy, deciduous tree common across southern Britain, the Copper Beech can grow to a typical height of 25 - 30m (80 - 100ft) with a spread of around 20m (65ft). Its size and preference for wet but well-drained fertile soil make it an ideal addition to large grounds or gardens with positioning in full or partial sun.

The Copper Beech is popular as an attractive ornamental tree due to its leaves. Starting as a copper colour in the spring, they turn to the striking, rich purple colour throughout the summer, before turning again to a coppery-red colour. Unusually, it holds onto its leaves across the winter before falling in the spring, making way for new growth.

Crab Apple (Malus sylvestris)

Native across the British Isles, the Crab Apple is a small tree with a dense crown, capable of growing up to 10m (30ft) with a spread of around 5m (16ft). Growing vigorously in most well-drained but moist, even heavy soil types, it can tolerate full sun or partial shade. Easy to cut back, Crab Apple is often used as a hedging plant.

Producing a fine display of pink-white blossom in the spring, Crab Apple is particularly attractive to pollinating bees. Producing yellowy-red fruits in autumn that can be used for jam or wine making, Crab Apples are also a favoured food source for birds and wildlife.

Dogrose (Rosa canina)

Native across the UK and Europe, the Dogrose is a fast growing, rambling and tough climbing shrub. Its sharp, hooked thorns help it climb, reaching up to 5m (15 ft) in height, so is perfectly suited to wild hedgerows or informal garden beds and borders for coverage. Thriving in most soil types, it copes well in full sun or partial shade, and is resilient to most conditions, though doesn’t fare well in coastal areas.

The Dogrose’s fragrant, five-petalled, pale pink flowers open up in June/July and can continue through to the autumn. This is followed by an abundance of glossy, orange-red hips that ripen throughout September and October that are a good early autumn food source for birds and wildlife.

Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea)

A UK native the Common Dogwood has been a familiar sight along hedgerows for many years, particularly across southern England. This fast-growing, broadleaf shrub can reach heights of around 3m (10ft) if left unpruned. Growing well in most soils, it thrives in wetter conditions, but does prefer full sun or partial shade.

Adding year round interest to any garden, the Dogwood’s clusters of creamy-white flowers appear in spring, and, while not having a particularly pleasant fragrance to us, attracts plenty of pollinating wildlife. Its green leaves turn a rich orange-red in autumn as its fruits ripen to a rich black berry. The Dogwood is also noted for its winter stems that appear yellow in the lower part, while turning bright red nearer the top.

Downy Birch (Betula pubescens)

A medium size tree capable of growing up to 20m (65ft), the Downy Birch is a UK native that feels at home in damp locations such as woodlands, near rivers or areas with higher rainfall. Though it copes well with heavy soils and handles exposed locations well, it is light demanding and requires full sun or partial shade to thrive.

It flowers in April/May with both long (male) and short (female) catkins, followed by diamond shaped leaves that turn yellow in the autumn. The Downy Birch also provides a good source of food and shelter to many birds, insects and wildlife. It’s not unusual to see woodpeckers making their home in its trunk also.

Elder (Sambucus nigra)

Common all over the UK, the Elder is a small tree, but is primarily seen as a spreading shrub used for screening or in hedgerows. Vigorously growing to heights of around 5m (16ft), it can have an equal spread of around 4 - 5m (13 - 16ft). The Elder gives its best growth when in its ideal sheltered position in direct sunlight with moist and fertile soil.

With its fragrant white flowers blossoming around June, the Elder produces its familiar hanging clusters of purple-black berries that ripen through August and September. Also attractive to birds as food, the Elderberries are often used for making jam and wine.

English Oak (Quercus robur)

One of Britain’s larger deciduous trees, the Oak is instantly recognisable across the land with its pale green leaves and easily identifiable fruit, the acorn. Growing to between 20 - 25m (65 - 85ft), it’s very tolerant to most soil, though thrives in heavier, well-watered and fertile conditions. Mature trees can also cope with flood and waterlogged conditions.

WThough slow growing overall, the Oak has rapid growth when young and has a long life expectancy due to its hardy ability to withstand winds and full exposure. Flowering in mid-spring, Acorns ripen come the autumn before the leaves fall, though shouldn’t be expected for many years. A perfect option for larger spaces and woodlands, it also provides a good source of food and habitat for all native wildlife.

Field Maple (Acer campestre)

The UK’s only native maple, the Field Maple is a fast-growing, deciduous tree that, if left, will reach up to 20m (65ft). Easy to please, it’s at home in most soil types, unless particularly wet or acidic, and can be cut back to any size to suit most garden sizes. Regular trimming can also create attractive, dense hedgerow.

Until the Field Maple reaches full maturity where it prospers under full light, it will develop in either full light or shaded areas to produce light green leaves with bee-friendly flowers in the spring. Darker green mature leaves take on the reddy-yellow colours associated with Maples in the autumn to glorious effect.

Goat Willow (Salix caprea)

A UK native, the Goat Willow, also known as Pussy Willow, is a large, hardy shrub that typically grows to around 6m (10ft), although can grow higher in the right conditions. It’s tolerant of most soil types including heavy clay, and prefers planting where the environment is damp and moist, such as woodlands, and open land near rivers.

After flowering early to provide a good source of pollen and nectar for bees when other trees and shrubs can’t, the catkins of both male (short and grey) and female (long and green) appear in early spring. The capsule-like fruits contains tiny seeds which are dispersed by the wind.

Grey Willow (Salix cinerea)

The UK native Grey Willow is commonly found in low-lying, wetland areas such as woodlands, marshes, as well as near rivers. Reaching heights of around 10m (30ft), it’s certainly well suited to fairly moist and well-drained positions and grows well in most soil types.

The Grey Willow is a rich source of nectar for bees and other pollinators, as well as being good for other wildlife. In spring, male catkins are silver before appearing to turn bright yellow as they become laden with pollen. The female catkins appear green, before maturing in summer. Its seeds are wrapped in white cotton-like fluff which are dispersed in the wind.

Guelder Rose (Viburnum opulus)

Native to the UK, this hardy deciduous spreading shrub, flowers in spring through to July, producing bee-friendly flower heads with flat white petals. Its red berry fruits are a favourite source of food for birds and appear as the leaves turn a rich red/yellow in the autumn. Though equally as beautiful in full and fragrant flower, the Guelder Rose, it should be pointed out, is not a rose.

Often planted as an ornamental shrub, the Guelder Rose is also a familiar sight in wild hedgerows and woodlands. Growing up to 5m (16ft) tall with a similar spread in most soil types, it’s partial to moist or wetter environments, thriving in full sun, full shade or anywhere in between.

Hazel (Corylus avellana)

A common UK native, the Hazel is a familiar sight in hedgerows up and down the country. Favoured in hedging for its fast growing, thick coverage, it’s also a frequently coppiced tree. As a small tree, the Hazel can typically grow from 3 - 8m (10 - 26ft), but can reach 15m (50ft). Hardy and adaptable, it grows well in all soils ranging from dry to wet and well-drained.

Preferring a sheltered location, the Hazel is shade tolerant, but does flourish a full sun position if possible. WIth yellow catkins appearing in mid-February, it’s often first to provide colour. And, providing a rich food source for birds and wildlife, its nut clusters appear from September/October onwards.

Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)

One of the best known trees in the UK, the Horse Chestnut, famed for its conkers, is a familiar sight in woods, parks, fields and often, streets up and down the country. Fast growing and adaptable to a range of well-drained soils, it’s not unusual for them to grow up to 30m (100ft) in height with a spread of 15m (50ft), so well-suited for larger, open spaces.

This native broadleaf tree produces scented, creamy-white flowers throughout April and May, before the appearance of its fruit - the conker - in September/October. Come autumn, the leaves turn a golden yellow before falling. Often considered ornamental, this hardy tree prefers a full sun location.

Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus)

A native, deciduous tree capable of growing from 10 - 25m (32 - 85ft), the Hornbeam is common throughout woodlands, parks and larger grounds. However, it’s more often used as a hedging plant to create ornamental and thick screening. Preferring heavier, wet soil, including that of chalk or clay, the Hornbeam thrives in the shade.

Its dark green leaves turn a golden yellow in the autumn before turning brown in winter, though it does retain many of them. Its flowers of green catkins clusters appear from late spring before turning to fruit in the autumn, providing a valuable food source for birds and wildlife.

Large Leaved Lime (Tilia platyphyllos)

A European native, the Large Leaved Lime’s vigorous growth rate means it can reach heights of up to 30m (100ft). This deciduous tree is adaptable to most soil types, though prefers moist and well-drained areas to achieve those heights and grows well in partial shade or full sun. A common tree in parks due to its size, it’s better suited to larger, open landscapes.

The Large Leaved Lime produces a thick covering of creamy-white flowers growing in clusters throughout June/July that are irresistible to bees. Following on is the appearance of small ripened fruits. With distinct heart-shaped leaves, their bright green colour turns a rich, golden yellow in autumn.

Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia)

A well known and small to medium tree, familiar in gardens everywhere, the Rowan is a hardy, undemanding and vigorous grower that thrives in open and sunny positions. Coping well in a variety of soils, it can reach heights of up to 15m (50ft), but is easily pruned to control growth and shape.

The Rowan also has high wildlife quota attached to it. Blossoming between April and May, its clusters of off-white flowers provide pollen for bees and many insects. The bright red berries that appear from August to October are an important and rich autumn food source for many birds. The Rowan also provides classic autumnal leaf colours before falling.

Service Tree (Sorbus torminalis)

One of the rarer UK native trees, the hardy Service Tree can still be found in woodlands and hedgerows. Growing to an ultimate height of around 15m (50ft), it’s a versatile and adaptable tree and can be managed to make a good hedging plant. Growing well in most soils, it prefers a deep fertile and heavy or clay ground, though is light-demanding.

Providing a good source of food for wildlife, the Service Tree produces clusters of white flowers pollinated by bees and insects in spring. Followed by brown, oval fruits in September, these are favoured by many birds and smaller animals. Its dark green leaves turn an autumnal orangey-red before falling.

Sessile Oak (Quercus petraea)

Being closely related to the English Oak, the UK native Sessile Oak is easily mistaken, though no less handsome. Preferring upland conditions of fertile, moist soil, it’s capable of growing up to 40m (130ft) in good light, with fast early growth. An excellent specimen for large, open spaces and woodlands, as well as hedgerows.

After flowering with catkins in April - May, its acorn fruits appear, ripening in the autumn, with its leaves turning an orangey-brown before falling. The distinctions between the English Oak include having much darker leaves through spring and summer, as well as its acorns appearing on the twigs, rather than on stalks.

Silver Birch (Betula pendula)

An easily recognisable tree, the Silver Birch is common throughout the UK. It can reach heights between 12 - 20m (40 - 65ft), making it a natural and distinctive choice for large ornamental gardens and parks. It’s fast growing, up to 1m (3ft) per year, if given its ideal conditions of full sun and deep, well-drained soil. It won’t tolerate shade, though it can cope well on most soil types.

Though delicate looking with its dropping branches, it’s a hardy tree and can withstand exposed areas. Flowering with catkins in April - May, its light green, heart-shaped leaves turn a rich yellow before falling in the autumn, while its distinctive silvery bark will ‘split’ as the tree ages.

Small Leaved Lime (Tilia cordata)

A medium sized, UK native tree, the Small Leaved Lime is a hardy specimen that is tolerant of both exposed areas as well as urban planting. Growing to between 20 - 30m (65 - 100ft) with a spread of around 20m (65ft), it copes well in either full sun or partial shade on a variety of soil types, preferably moist, but well-drained.

With clusters of light green-white flowers appearing in early summer, their sweet smell is attractive to bees for pollination. This is followed by small, smooth oval fruits. Its distinctive glossy, heart-shaped leaves turn a light yellow in the autumn. A tree well-suited to larger garden, parks and woodlands.

Spindle (Euonymus europaeus)

Native to the UK and Europe, the Spindle is a vigorous and fast-growing shrub, often used as a hedging plant. Reaching up to 3m (9ft) tall, it’s incredibly hardy once established. Though it grows well in most soils, it prefers a well-drained and nutrient-rich situation in either full sun or partial shade.

Due to its stunning flower display, it’s often used as an ornamental shrub, adding a big splash of colour to any garden. A good source of nectar for bees and other pollinators, the hot pink flowers open in May/June to reveal bright orange seeds. Come autumn, the dark green summer leaves turn a purple-red before falling

Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa)

Introduced to Britain by the Romans, the Sweet Chestnut tree is perhaps best known for its edible chestnuts, popular at Christmas. Commonly used for coppicing, this fast-growing tree can reach between 25 - 30m (80 - 100ft) with a spread of around 15m (50ft). Although hardy and drought resistant, it does require full sunlight to grow best in light, fertile and well-drained soil.

Its pale green catkins flower and are insect pollinated in early summer before turning to green, spiky fruits. With each fruit containing between 1 - 3 of the familiar chestnuts, these ripen throughout October and November. Long pointed, dark green leaves turn yellow in autumn.

Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus)

A large, broadleaved deciduous tree common throughout the UK, the Sycamore is tough and hardy. Suiting open and exposed landscapes like parklands and large gardens, it can grow to around 35m (115ft). Aiding its rapid growth is the benefit of being adaptable to almost any soil type. Though it can cope with partial shade when young, the Sycamore becomes heavily reliant on full sun as it grows.

Producing clusters of small, pale green flowers in early summer, the pollen is distributed by bees and insects as well as the wind. After pollination, its familiar ‘helicopter’ winged seeds fall and are again blown by the wind. Through autumn, it produces a fine display of colour.

Wayfaring Tree (Viburnum lantana)

More of a large, bushy shrub, the Wayfaring Tree is a familiar sight in hedgerows across the country, though particularly across southern England where it favours the chalk and limestone soils. Growing up to 5m (16ft), it’s a hardy choice for gardens and grows well in most well-drained soils.

A good option for lovers of wildlife, the Wayfaring Tree offers a rich source of pollen through its creamy-white flowers that appear from May - June. Birds will also flock to eat its berries that first appear red, before ripening to black. Also appealing are its autumn leaves that turn a mixture of yellow and russet.

Whitebeam (Sorbus aria)

Popular across the UK, the medium sized Whitebeam tree typically grows to between 8 - 12m (25 - 40ft), but can be easily pruned for gardens and is sometimes seen as a hedgerow shrub. Growing well on most soil types, it prefers the chalk/limestone soil common in southern Britain. Well-suited to most conditions, it does favour full sun or partial shade for best growth.

Following clusters of fluffy-headed white flowers in May, the Whitebeam’s fruits arrive in September as orangey-red berries, remaining on the tree well into winter. As a result, it’s a popular choice for many birds and wildlife. Its green leaves have an unusual soft, felt-like underside and turn a golden russet colour in autumn.

Wild Cherry (Prunus avium)

Famed for its fine display of pinky-white, sweet blossom in April and May, the Wild Cherry is certainly an ornamental tree. Capable of growing between 10 - 20m (30 - 65ft) in a sunny position, this medium to large tree is well suited to most soils, particularly those of a chalky or sandy constitution. North facing positions are best avoided.

With its fabulous blossom appearing in April/May, the eagerly anticipated black cherry fruits ripen through July and August. Edible and delicious for us as well as many birds and assorted wildlife, they’re a favoured food source. It provides another fine display in autumn as its leaves turn a delightful blend of gold and russet.

Wych Elm (Ulmus glabra)

A large, UK native deciduous tree, the Wych Elm is commonly found in the North and West parts of Britain and into Scotland. Being a hardy specimen, it’s an excellent grower. Reaching up to 30m (100ft) in exposed areas, both coastal and inland, it favours being near flowing water and suits most soil types. It’s also tolerant of sea spray and air, as well as urban pollutants.

Its clusters of purple/red flowers appear on the branch before its leaves in early spring, before making way for it winged seeds, dispersed by the wind in July/August. The leaves turn a golden yellow in autumn before falling. An ideal specimen tree in larger ornamental gardens or parks.

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