The end for a 1,200 year old Oak?
One of Britain’s oldest Oaks known as the Great Oak and growing near Wrexham may be nearing its end. This winter’s extreme weather conditions has allowed ice to enter the tree and caused this ancient tree to split in two. This tree which has a circumference of 34 ft, started life back in Saxon times during the reign of King Egbert around the year 800.
When it was about 360 years old, which is quite a good age it nearly met its end as King Henry 11 cut down most of the trees in this area. ( Probably Henry did not actually wield the axe himself, it was probably his men under his direction) The region was the site of the Ceiriog Woods and the clearance was in preparation for the battle of Crogen in which the local Welsh led by Owain Gwynedd defeated Henry.
Still at least Henry had a regard for a good tree. This was in 1165. At some time later the tree was probably struck by lightning as it has or had rather a forked appearance. This winter ice has formed in the centre of the tree and its expansion has pushed the tree apart causing it to split and fall into two sections. A firm of specialist arboriculturalists are to carry out an assessment on the possibilities of saving the tree.
It may be that it can be pulled back together and strengthening material added to help support it. Lets hope it can be saved, trees like this are just as much part of our heritage as ancient monuments, buildings and museum pieces. In addition trees provide a habitat for a vast array of other species, probably this Oak is providing a home for a variety of fungi which are causing the centre of the tree to slowly rot away.
This is natural and the rot will provide nooks and crannies for birds to nest in and butterflies to hibernate in and the half rotten wood will provide food for wood lice and millipedes and so it goes on. Planting trees is a good way to help our environment, not all trees that are planted now are going on to live for 1000 years, if they reach 350 years they will have done well.
However even a 50 year old Oak will provide a microhabitat for a significant number of species. Recently the giving of tree seedlings as wedding favours has become quite popular. This is partly because of the environmental aspect. It is also partly because many of us seek immortality and the thought that a tree planted as a result of your wedding could still be around in the year 3010 is fairly mind blowing. Also little trees set out on the reception tables look really attractive and considerably enhance their appearance.
So if you are interested take a look at wedding-tree-favours.com