Fascinating facts about trees in Ireland

HERE is some interesting information on trees from the Tree Council's former chairperson John Mcloughlin from Cahersiveen.

■ The pine forests in Ireland would have grown on the mountains over 5,000 years ago. However, they were gone by early Christian times in the second half of the first millennium. This is because around that time the climate got colder and wetter and the bogs began to grow, swamping out these forests. We can still find the remains of those ancient pine forests today buried in the peat of our blanket bogs.

■ An Irish Law of the 8th century set out penalties for damaging privately owned trees. Penalties included the payment of cows for cutting down an Oak tree and the payment of a sheep for cutting a branch of a Hawthorn.

■ Modern Irish forestry began in 1904 at Avondale in Co. Wicklow, the home of Charles Stewart Parnell. Many different tree species from all over the world were planted within the estate to see which would grow best in Irish conditions.

■ Holly and Arabutus (Strawberry Tree), are two native broadleaf trees that retain their leaves in the winter, making them evergreen broadleaves.

■ Larch is a conifer grown in Ireland that sheds all its leaves (or needles) in the winter making it a deciduous conifer.

■ The tallest tree in Ireland is a nonnative Douglas Fir, at the Powerscourt Estate in Co. Wicklow. This tree measures 56 metres in height.

■ The tree with the largest girth is another exotic, a Monterey Cypress, commonly known as Macrocarpa. This tree is growing at Killyleigh, Co. Down, and is over 12 metres in diameter.

■ The tallest native tree in Ireland is a 40m tall Ash, that is growing near Clonmel.