independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

See the tree, how big it's grown - Ireland's king of the woods

Reporter Emma Jane Hade with the Douglas Fir Tree standing at over 202 Ft Tall in Powerscourt Estate and Gardens Eniskerry Co Wicklow yesterday.
Pic Steve Humphreys
30th December 2013.
Reporter Emma Jane Hade with the Douglas Fir Tree standing at over 202 Ft Tall in Powerscourt Estate and Gardens.

STANDING at 202 feet, this tree is taller than Dublin's Liberty Hall and the world famous Niagara Falls.

Having recently being crowned the tallest tree in Ireland, this Douglas fir really is the king of the woods, as it towers above the rest along the Powerscourt Estate river walk in Co Wicklow.

The tree is the first in the country to have ever reached over 200ft since records began.

Aubrey Fennell, co-author of 'Heritage Trees of Ireland', said that the Co Wicklow tree, which stands at an impressive 61.5 metres, has enjoyed an "extraordinary" growth spurt since it was last measured nearly 10 years ago.

"We last measured it with a laser in 2004, and it was about 56 metres tall. It has grown about 5.5 metres in the last 10 years, which is extraordinary. It was a real spurt."

Niagara Falls is 176ft or 53.6 metres, while Liberty Hall is 195ft or 59.4 metres.

Mr Fennell, who works with the Tree Register of Ireland, is a "champion tree hunter" because he searches for outstanding specimens.

He said the tree had grown accustomed to the Co Wicklow climate, as it was similar to the weather of its north-west Pacific origins.

"It's the wet summers which have really helped it, as that imitates the conditions where it comes from. It needs moisture all year around for it do well," he said.

"The tallest tree in the world is 116 metres, in California, and it is a Coastal Redwood. The tallest tree in the world is almost as tall as the Spire in Dublin, which is 120 metres."

Mr Fennell estimates that this particular tree is at least 143 years old, and said that it was planted by the Seventh Viscount Powerscourt, who went on a tree-planting spree in the late 19th Century.

"The planting of trees was started in earnest by the seventh Viscount of Powerscourt in the 1860s. His great claim was that of all things he ever did, he planted millions of trees.

"All of our native trees, even when we were covered in trees centuries ago, would have been 45 metres," Mr Fennell said.

"Powerscourt have put a pathway into it for visitors to visit it. It is quite impressive.

"It's not easy to see until you get right up close to it," he added.

The next tallest trees in the country can be found in Avondale, Co Wicklow, and trail almost three metres behind, standing at an impressive 58.5 and 58.7 metres.

Irish Independent

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