Tree of the Month

Fraxinus excelsior ‘Aurea Pendula’ at Hendon Park

Champion trees are the largest of their kind and so are very often the oldest, and the likeliest to die or blow down; they are also the likeliest trees to be removed – in public sites because they are hazardous, and in private ones because they have grown too big. Hence the list of record-holders changes from month to month. Although knowing that a tree is a champion often influences attempts to prolong its life, it’s not always appropriate to try to protect every champion.

This weeping golden ash (Fraxinus excelsior ‘Aurea Pendula’) in Hendon Park in north London is the tallest recorded at seven metres – this is a small-growing cultivar, with a mound-like habit, pretty in yellowish-green leaf through summer and with its cascading golden twigs in winter. Having withstood Ash Dieback (so far), it’s the first champion tree whose cause of death is recorded as vandalism (ring-barking). Although still looking healthy in this photograph from August 2022, it will not remain so for long.