Ireland’s Native Trees.

In Ireland, nature on November 16, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Ash tree in back field.

 There are differing opinions about the number of native Irish trees. A general consensus seems to be 18. Ash is one of the commonest trees. It grows on all soils and self seeds readily. The national game of hurling is played with hurleys made from Ash. It is also a great tree for burning and can be burned from green.

Scots Pine at Lough Rynn.

 The mighty Scots Pine can grow to a height of 40 metres and live up to 300 years.  The wood is known as “red deal”…it is used fencing, in house building and in telephone poles. It is high in resin which makes it longer lasting.

Young Oak tree at Seed Savers in Co Clare.

 There are 2 native Oaks…sessile and pedunculate. The difference is in the acorns. The acorns from Sessile Oaks have no stalks while the pedunculate have quite long stalks. Ireland’s oldest Oak is at Tuamgraney in Co. Clare…it is 1,000 years old. The Oak pictured above is grown from an acorn from that tree. It is known as Brian Boru’s Oak. Brian Boru was the last High King of Ireland…he was killed at the battle of Clontarf in 1014 reputedly at 88 years old. Oak produces very strong timber…most of Ireland’s Oak forests were felled to be used in the making of ships for Britain’s Royal Navy.

Birch, Scots Pine and Ash to the north-side of our house.

 Now is a good time for planting trees, especially in the mild weather we have been having. It is a good idea to plant native trees as they are accostumed to the climate…more wildlife friendly…birds and insects are fussy and will only inhabit plants they recognise.  Check what grows in your area already. If something is not going to do well in your soil there’s no point planting it.

The complete list in addition to those mentioned:

Birch, will grow in boggy, wet soil. Rowan, also called Mountain Ash. Alder, has nitrogen fixing nodules on it’s roots. Willow, hundreds of species, grows easily from cuttings. Holly, only the female bears the red berries that symbolise Christmas for so many. Hazel, produces edible nuts that are much loved by humans and squirrels. Aspen, a fast growing member of the Poplar family. Bird Cherry, found mainly in the north-west. Crab Apple, produces small sour apples which make an easy to set jelly. Strawberry Tree, found mainly in co . Kerry. It produces fruits which look like Strawberries hence the name. Whitebeam, has a preference for limy soils. Wych Elm, mostly wiped out by Dutch Elm Disease. Wild Cherry, grows best in alkaline soil. Yew, most often associated with graveyards produces berries which are poisonous to livestock.

 If you’re going to plant a tree…do plant a native tree.




  1. It is so interesting to hear about natives in Ireland, you seem so far away from me in Western Washington! What is the genus species of the Scott pine? Is it Pinus sylvestris? We have quite a few in our landscaping here.

  2. […] For a timely reminder of the importance of planting trees indigenous to your native area, click here to read Arigna Gardener’s run-down of trees native to Ireland, (most of which of course are […]

  3. Thank you for sharing your world with us. So many would love to go to Ireland and see what you’re seeing, but we can’t due to work, funds, etc. You offer a wide, clean window in order to see what we may never have the chance to see. Bless you!

  4. Lovely, I do love trees. We planted a strawberry tree and it did very well for six years, flowering and fruiting beautifully and then it died last winter in the cold. I did eat some of the fruits, they were sweet but didn’t taste of strawberries. Our most recently planted tree is a rowan and I’m hoping to plant another fruit tree this winter if I can make up my mind …..

  5. I’ve always been a tree lover so this is a delightful post for me to view. Would love to see that 1000 year old tree.

  6. Such an informative tree loving post! Love all the mythology interwoven here as well
    p.s. have added your link to my post as we both were doing trees!

  7. I didn’t realize alders fixed nitrogen! I agree, familiarizing yourself with trees native to your region, and selecting from those first, are of great benefit to wildlife. I have a couple of native trees here that I’m not terribly fond of that grow here of their own free will. When I first moved in I thought I’d cut them down, but after learning about some of the beneficial insects, and animals, that depend on them, I leave them be.

  8. I like the top photo!

  9. Native sure is the only way to go.

  10. Lovely post. I am a bit of a tree hugger, I just love trees, there is something solid and strong about them. It has been a bit of a sad year trees wise in my neighbourhood. We had to get rid of a birch last summer. We hadn’t planted it but it had outgrown its place. It should never have been planted there really. Then neighbours have removed 2 ash trees that were touching the electricity wires. The place feels a bit bare. We have replaced the birch but not with a native unfortunately. We couldn’t find one to suit such a small space but once it gets growing it will at least provide another perch for the birds.

  11. I am going to try commenting again in case its working now. Great profile of native trees in Ireland. It is so important to make people aware of what’s native so they can make informed choices.

  12. Nice post. I’ve spent the beginning of winter harvesting some of our ash and alder for next years fire. Both should coppice well, and we’re lucky to have a choice of mature trees to harvest from.

    Our own native variety planting experiments have largely met with failure at the jaws of the local marauding populace of deer, witht the partial exception of the hazel, and some of the willow.

    Good to hear about posts and Scot’s Pine, as ash and alder won’t really last so long in the wet ground here. Any idea as to it’s longevioty (treated and untreated?)

  13. Wow, 1,000 year old tree – that is awesome. It is amazing to think what history our old trees have seen.

    I have never heard of a Strawberry tree. Do the fruits also taste like strawberries?

  14. I’d love to see a tree that is 1000 years old.

  15. I couldn’t agree with you more about planting native trees–it is crucial to our survival.

  16. I’m very pleased I’ve managed to grow a lttle silver birch from seeds that came with an ecover sample pack. its about a foot high so it’ll need to grow on a lot before being rehomed somewhere suitable.

  17. An interesting and gentle post.

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