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03 July 2017
New champion Dawn Redwood

Members who regularly visit the definitive list of champion trees inside this website will realise that the champion details can change surprisingly fast, as new trees are discovered and known ones outgrow one another. This is particularly true for species like the Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) which was introduced as recently as 1948 and whose ultimate sizes in Britain remain a matter for guesswork.

Until 2006, the tallest for many years had been a tree on a sheltered woodland slope at Leonardslee in Sussex which was about 29m tall and seemed to have climaxed. That summer, I found a younger tree in Wayford Woods near Crewkerne in Somerset which was now 32m.

I had to wait until this year to find a taller one: one of a pair in the nature area on the Dartington Hall estate near Totnes in neighbouring Devon (which had been 28m tall in 2004) was 33.5m in April.

This was timely, as a revisit to Wayford Woods found the previous champion, unusually for a Metasequoia, in very poor health; I suspect honey-fungus. However, the Dartington Hall's tree reign as record-holder was short-lived as a tree in Dunster Woodlands in Somerset, which was only 26m in 2006 (and 12m in 1984) is now 36.5m tall and is growing very fast indeed: it is surrounded by Douglas Firs to 61m tall (England's joint-tallest trees) and may yet rival them.

These new tallest Dawn Redwoods both grow in permanently boggy ground next to streams, suggesting that abundant water through the growing season is probably going to be important for continued height-growth. The south-west of England combines summer warmth with plenty of rainfall, though it could still be that more northerly high-rainfall regions, where early growth is slower, could suit the species better in the long term.

And where and when will the next champion be found?


12 March 2017
London's Tallest Tree - the latest

A useful new tool for tree measurers is Google Earth's 3D imagery, which is now available for major towns and cities including a large part of central and southeastern London. The canopies of trees are mapped, under ideal conditions, to the nearest foot, and the tree's height can be quickly calculated by hovering the mouse over the crown, reading the highest altitude, and subtracting from this the altitude of the ground when you hover the mouse near the base of the tree.

This has proved particularly useful for locating the tallest trees in central London, which are invariably London Planes and are often difficult to spot on foot among the tall buildings and difficult to measure with lasers because of their dense irregular crowns and the limited sightlines available in such densely built environments.

Over the winter (when the skilful tree measurer goes not forth), Google Earth imagery suggested to me that the tallest central London Planes were the trees immediately NE of the north transept of St Paul's Cathedral and on the lawn in the western sector of Finsbury Circus, which both appeared as 40m tall. Both are still growing in height and laser measurements this month suggest heights of 40.2m for the St Paul's tree and 40.6m for its rival in Finsbury Circus (pictured above) - which, though previously unrecorded, becomes the tallest measured tree in Greater London and probably one of the tallest in the heart of any major city.

Google Earth imagery has also helped me find one of 2017's first new champion trees: a Robinia pseudoacacia 'Frisia' in the residents' garden of Ridgmount Gardens in Bloomsbury, easily spotted from its shape and bright yellow colour and about 21m tall when the Google imagery was made. It has now grown to 23.2m.


12 January 2017
Each County's Tallest Tree

Featuring trees of at least 45m/150 feet measured reliably in the last few years by Owen Johnson, David Alderman, Rob Lynley, Aubrey Fennell, Stephen Verge, Chic Henderson, the Tree Register of Ireland project and the pupils of Bryanston School.

The champions include 18 Douglas Firs (Pseudotsuga menziesii), 15 Grand Firs (Abies grandis), 11 Sitka Spruces (Picea sitchensis), 7 Giant Sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum), and one London Plane (Platanus x hispanica). Apart from the plane, all are conifers from the western mountains of North America.

For full details and pictures of these trees and of over 400 more trees at least 45m tall, visit the Members’ Section.

 

England

Cornwall: Picea sitchensis, Tregrehan, 46.7m in 2014 (laser).

Cumbria: Abies grandis, Skelghyll Wood, 57.8m in 2012 (tape drop).

Derbyshire: Picea sitchensis, Ladybower Reservoir, 50.2m in 2013 (laser).

Devon: Pseudotsuga menziesii, Eggesford Forest, 51m in 2013 (laser).

Dorset: Platanus x hispanica, Bryanston School, 49.7m in 2015 (tape drop).

Durham: Abies grandis, Hamsterley Forest, 56m in 2016 (laser).

East Sussex: Abies grandis, Eridge Park, 45.5m in 2016 (laser); Sequoiadendron giganteum, Beauport Park, 45.5m in 2014 (laser).

Gloucestershire: Pseudotsuga menziesii, Sutton Bottom, Forest of Dean, 59.5m in 2015 (laser).

Hampshire: Pseudotsuga menziesii, Holidays Hill Inclosure, New Forest, 55.5m in 2015 (laser).

Herefordshire: Pseudotsuga menziesii, Croft Ambrey, Croft Castle, 57.6m in 2016 (laser).

Norfolk: Abies grandis, New Wood, Weasenham, 47m in 2014 (laser).

Northumberland: Pseudotsuga menziesii, Cragside, 61m in 2013 (laser).

Oxfordshire: Pseudotsuga menziesii, Warburg Nature Reserve, 45m in 2016 (laser).

Somerset: Pseudotsuga menziesii, Dunster Woodlands, 61.3m in 2011 (laser).

Surrey: Pseudotsuga menziesii, Polecat Copse, Haslemere, 58.2m in 2015 (laser).

West Sussex: Sequoiadendron giganteum, Nymans, 52m in 2016 (laser).

Wiltshire: Sequoiadendron giganteum, Center Parcs, Longleat, 58m in 2016 (laser).

Yorkshire: Pseudotsuga menziesii, Dalby Forest, 55m in 2013 (laser).

 

Ireland

Armagh: Sequoiadendron giganteum, Gosford Castle, 45.5m in 2015 (laser).

Carlow: Abies grandis, Huntington Castle, 47.6m in 2016 (laser).

Cork: Picea sitchensis, Myross, 48m in 2010 (hypsometer).

Derry: Picea sitchensis, Drenagh, 46.5m in 2010 (hypsometer).

Donegal: Picea sitchensis, Lougheask, 46.4m in 2000 (hypsometer).

Dublin: Sequoiadendron giganteum, Luttrellstown Castle, 50m in 2010 (laser).

Kerry: Pseudotsuga menziesii, Torc Waterfall, Killarney, 57.2m in 2016 (laser).

Kilkenny: Sequoiadendron giganteum, Woodstock, 46.5m in 2000 (hypsometer).

Laois: Picea sitchensis, Baunreagh, 58.2m in 2016 (laser).

Monaghan: Picea sitchensis, Castle Leslie, 53m in 2010 (hypsometer).

Offaly: Abies grandis, Birr Castle, 51.6m in 2016 (laser).

Tyrone: Sequoiadendron giganteum, Caledon Castle, 51m in 2010 (laser); Picea sitchensis, Caledon Castle, 51m in 2010 (laser).

Waterford: Pseudotsuga menziesii, Owennahasad Glen, 57.6m in 2016 (laser).

Wicklow: Picea sitchensis, Glendalough, 61m in 2016 (laser).

 

Scotland

Aberdeenshire: Abies grandis, Glendye Lodge, 53m in 2007 (hypsometer); Picea sitchensis, Drumtochty Glen, 53m in 2013 (laser).

Angus: Abies grandis, Glamis Castle, 52m in 2007 (hypsometer); Picea sitchensis, Cortachy Castle, 52m in 2007 (hypsometer).

Argyll & Bute: Pseudotsuga menziesii , Laird’s Grave, Ardentinny, 68.4m in 2016 (laser).

Dumfries & Galloway: Pseudotsuga menziesii, Kirkennan, 60.2m in 2014 (laser).

East Lothian: Pseudotsuga menziesii, Yester House, 50m in 2016 (laser).

East Renfrewshire: Abies grandis, Rouken Glen Park, 46m in 2012 (laser).

Highland: Pseudotsuga menziesii, Reelig Glen, Moniack, 65.6m in 2013 (laser).

Moray: Picea sitchensis, Randolph’s Leap, Darnaway, 63m in 2013 (laser).

Perth & Kinross: Abies grandis, Blair Castle, 63m in 2015 (laser).

Scottish Borders: Abies grandis, Dawyck Botanic Garden, 51m in 2014 (laser).

South Ayrshire: Abies grandis, Glenapp, 46m in 2012 (laser).

Stirling: Abies grandis, Doune Park, 53m in 2009 (hypsometer).

 

Wales

Conwy: Pseudotsuga menziesii, Gwydyr Forest, 68m in 2016 (laser).

Denbighshire: Pseudotsuga menziesii, Vivod, 53m in 2009 (hypsometer).

Glamorgan: Abies grandis, Cefn Onn Park, 50.5m in 2013 (laser).

Gwynedd (pictured above): Abies grandis, Coed y Brenin Forest, 61m in 2016 (laser).

Powys: Pseudotsuga menziesii, Laky Vyrnwy, 60.6m in 2011 (laser).


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