One of the special features of the Arboretum is that memorials exist in complete harmony with the living trees – each bestows a particular relevance on the other. Here, the trees are as much a memorial as the constructions themselves.
Bald or Swamp Cypress
Latin name - Taxodium distichum
This is a species of conifer native to the southeastern United States. It is a very popular ornamental grown for its light, feathery foliage and orange-brown colour in autumn, which can also range to a dull red. Unlike most other species in the Cupressaceae family it is deciduous, losing the leaves in the winter months. Hence the name 'bald'.
Chinese Red Birch
Latin name - Betula albo-sinensis
This birch is a native of central and western China. It’s a tough tree despite its delicate appearance, originating as it does from high altitudes where it is cold and windy with, frequently, poor soil.
Latin name - Prunus serrulata
This species of cherry is of ancient garden origin, introduced from China in 1822. It’s known for its spring blossom displays, the spectacular blossom contrasting vividly with the magnificent copper-bronze sheen of the bark. It’s grown widely as a flowering ornamental tree, in China, Japan and throughout the temperate regions of the world.
Significance: Chinese and Japanese cherries feature at the British Korean Veterans Memorial, along with other trees with a Far East connection such as the Korean Fir (Abies koreana).
Latin name - Cornus sanguinea
This species of dogwood is native to most of Europe and western Asia, occurring north to southern England and southern Scandinavia, and east to the Caspian Sea. It grows in the margins of forests, woods in regeneration, prickly woodland fringes, and with other thorny shrub species. It is particularly abundant in riversides, especially in shady areas and ravines. It is grown widely as an ornamental plant.
Latin name - Juniperus communis
This species of juniper has the largest range of any woody plant, throughout the cool temperate Northern Hemisphere from the Arctic south, to mountains around 30°N latitude in North America, Europe and Asia.
Significance: Juniper appears alongside plants with an Irish connection, such as yew, strawberry tree and blackthorn, in the Irish Infantry Grove.
Latin name - Syringa vulgaris
This species of syringa is native to the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe, where it grows on rocky hills. The vast range of garden lilacs have originated from this species.
Common, English or Persian Walnut
Latin name - Juglans regia
This tree is native to the region stretching from the Balkans eastward to the Himalayas and southwest China. The largest forests are in Kyrgyzstan, where trees occur in extensive, nearly pure walnut forests at 3,280–6,560 feet (1,000-2,000 m) altitude. The word 'walnut' derives from the Anglo-Saxon term wealhhnutu, literally "foreign nut". It’s believed that the tree became known as the ‘English’ walnut because English sailors during Elizabethan times were prominent players in Juglans regia nut distribution.
Significance: Walnuts, cherries, plums, pears and apples feature at the Royal Logistics Corps Memorial as originally it was part of the Corp’s duty to forage for food during campaigns abroad. Walnuts are also found at the Royal Air Force Wing Memorial, recalling the fact that the first aircraft propellers were made from this hardy wood that is able to absorb shock without splitting. For this reason also it was, and continues to be, used to form the stocks of rifles and shotguns.
Latin name - Malus red sentinel
This medium sized round headed tree has a brilliant display of vibrant red crab apples in the autumn. Often used in Christmas decorations ‘Red Sentinel’ is a real delight in all seasons.
Significance: Crab apples, cherries, and other fruit trees feature in the Co-op ‘Trees for Life’ section of the Arboretum. Crab apples also feature in the Golden Grove, alongside other trees with suitably golden foliage, fruits or stems such as Golden Ash and Golden Irish Yew. This Memorial planting celebrates the lives of couples who married at the end of World War II and commemorated their 50th anniversary by dedicating trees.
English or European Yew
Latin name - Taxus baccata
This is a conifer native to western, central and southern Europe, northwest Africa, northern Iran and southwest Asia. It was previously known simply as ‘yew’, but with other related trees becoming known it’s now commonly called the English yew, or European yew.
Significance: Yew is associated with England and Wales because of the longbow, an early weapon of war developed in northern Europe and the basis for a medieval tactical system. Yew is the wood of choice for longbow making; the bows are constructed so that the heartwood is on the inside of the bow while the sapwood is on the outside. This takes advantage of the natural properties of yew wood - the heartwood resists compression while the sapwood resists stretching – to increase the strength and efficiency of the bow. The trade of yew wood to England for longbows was such that it depleted the stocks of good-quality, mature yew over a vast area. The first documented import of yew bowstaves to England was in 1294. In 1350 there was a serious shortage, and King Henry IV ordered his royal bowyer to enter private land to cut yew and other woods.
Latin name - Quercus robur
The English Oak is actually native to most of Europe, and from Anatolia to the Caucasus as well as parts of North Africa. It’s valued for its importance to insects - which live on the leaves, buds, and in the acorns – and other wildlife. In fact, it supports the highest biodiversity of insect herbivores of any British plant.
Significance: The single oak at the centre of the Royal Tank Regiment memorial comes from Flers, in France, site of the first appearance by tanks in 1916 during the Battle of the Somme. An oak also features in the Irish Infantry Grove. This tree comes from Tolleymore, where oaks were harvested to fit out the ships of the White Star Line, owner of the Titanic.
European Black Pine
Latin name - Pinus nigra
This is a moderately variable species of pine, occurring across southern Mediterranean Europe, from Spain to the Crimea, in Asia Minor and on Cyprus, and in the high mountains of the Maghreb in North Africa. It is found at elevations ranging from sea level to 6,600 feet (2,000m), most commonly from 820–5,200 feet (250–1,600m). Sub-species include the Austrian Pine (P. nigra ssp. nigra), Corsican Pine (P. nigra ssp. laricio) and the Crimean Pine (P. nigra ssp. pallasiana).
European Mountain Ash
Latin name - Sorbus aucuparia
Despite its common name this species of rowan is unrelated to the true ash tree, although the leaves are superficially similar. It’s native to most of Europe, except for the far south, and northern Asia. In the south of its range, in the Mediterranean region, it’s confined to high altitudes.
European or Common Ash
Latin name - Fraxinus excelsior
This species of ash is native to most of Europe, with the exception of northern Scandinavia, and southern Iberia, and also south-western Asia from northern Turkey east to the Caucasus and Alborz mountains. The northernmost location is in the Trondheimsfjord region of Norway.
Significance: European ashes feature on the Royal Tank Regiment memorial as the officers’ swagger sticks are made from this wood. The first row of ashes at the memorial comes from Cambrai, in France, site of the first large-scale mechanised attack in the history of warfare.
European or Common Hornbeam
Latin name - Carpinus betulus
This hornbeam is native to eastern, western, central and southern England. It requires a warm climate for good growth, and occurs only up to 2,000 feet (600 m) above sea-level. It grows in mixed stands with oak and, in some areas, beech and is commonly found in scree forests.
Giant Sequoia or Sierra Redwood
Latin name - Sequoiadendron giganteum
This is the sole living species in the genus Sequoiadendron, and one of three species of coniferous trees known as redwoods. Giant sequoias are the world's largest trees in terms of total volume, growing to an average height of 160-279 feet (50–85m) and 20-26 feet (6–8m) in diameter. Record trees have been measured at 311 feet (294.8m) tall and over 56 feet (17m) wide. The oldest known giant sequoia, based on ring count, is 3,500 years old. The species occurs naturally only in groves on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains of California.
Significance: Giant sequoias feature at the Twin Towers Memorial, recalling the destruction of the World Trade Center towers on 11 September 2001 and the victims of this act of terrorism.
Ginkgo or Maidenhair Tree
Latin name - Ginkgo biloba
Estimated at 260 million years old, this is a unique species of tree with no close living relatives. The tree is widely cultivated and introduced since an early period in human history, and has various uses as a food and traditional medicine.
Significance: Ginkgo trees, with their Chinese heritage, can be found at the Yangtze Incident Memorial.
Golden Irish Yew
Latin name - Taxus baccata fastigiata aurea
Irish yew forms a distinctive upright growing shrub or tree that's perfect for adding height to a border. The form 'Fastigiata Aurea' has bright golden edges to its foliage which gives the whole plant a distinctive golden appearance. It's tolerant of most soils provided there is adequate drainage and it doesn’t become water-logged. Like all yews it can be clipped into shapes but also looks particularly good when allowed to grow naturally. It stands hard pruning and will always shoot out again from old wood.
Significance: Golden Irish Yew features in the Golden Grove alongside other trees with suitably golden foliage, fruits or stems such as Golden Ash and Crab apples. This Memorial planting celebrates the lives of couples who married at the end of World War II and commemorated their 50th anniversary by dedicating trees.
Golden Weeping Willow
Latin name - Salix x chrysocoma
This is the most popular and widely grown weeping tree in warm, temperate regions. It is an artificial hybrid between S. alba 'Vitellina-Tristis' and S. babylonica 'Babylon'. The first parent provides frost hardiness and the golden shoots and the second parent delivers the strong weeping habit.
Holm or Holly Oak
Latin name - Quercus Ilex
This is a large evergreen oak native to the Mediterranean region. It takes its name from holm, an ancient name for holly. A medium-size tree with finely square-fissured blackish bark and leathery evergreen leaves, it’s a member of the white oak section of the genus, with acorns that mature in a single summer. The old leaves fall 1–2 years after new leaves emerge.
Significance: Seen from below, the leaves of the Holm Oak are a pale whitish-grey. The specimens at the Air Force Memorial represent Air Force Guards of Honour.
Latin name - Sorbus hupehensis
This species of rowan is native to central and western China. It is grown as an ornamental and valued for its white fruit contrasting with the orange autumn colour. It was introduced to this country by the famous plant hunter E H Wilson in 1910.
Latin name - Sorbus cashmiriana
This is a species of rowan native to the western Himalayas, including Kashmir. It’s a popular ornamental tree in gardens in northwest Europe, grown for its clusters of white fruit.
Significance: Kashmir Rowan features at the Royal Indian Navy and Indian Army Memorial, along with other trees and plants with a connection to the sub-continent such as Cedar, Bhutan Pine, Buddleia and Cotoneaster.
Latin name - Sorbus Alnifolia
This species of whitebeam is native to eastern Asia; China, Korea and Japan. It’s a medium-sized deciduous tree, with grey bark, growing 33-66 feet (10–20m) tall with a trunk up to 12 inches (30cm) in diameter.
Significance: Korean Whitebeam features at the British Korean Veterans Memorial, along with other trees with a Far East connection such as the Korean Fir.
Kyūshū MAPLE OR RED SNAKEBARK MAPLE
Latin name - Acer capillipes
This maple is native to mountainous regions in Japan, on central and southern Honshū (Fukushima Prefecture southwards), Kyūshū and Shikoku islands, usually growing alongside mountain streams.
London Plane Tree
Latin name - Platanus x hispanica
The London Plane is a large deciduous tree growing to 66-132 feet (20–40m), with a trunk up to 10 feet (3m) or more in circumference. It’s very tolerant of atmospheric pollution and root compaction and, for this reason, is a popular urban roadside tree. It is now extensively cultivated in most temperate latitudes as an ornamental and parkland tree, and is commonly planted in cities throughout the temperate regions of the world, including Buenos Aires, New York City, Paris, Madrid, Melbourne and Shanghai.
Latin name - Acer platanoides
This maple is native to eastern and central Europe and southwest Asia, from France east to Russia, north to southern Scandinavia and southeast to northern Iran.
Royal Burgundy Japanese Cherry
Latin name - Prunus 'royal burgundy'
This beautiful Japanese cherry hybrid is much sought after for its deep rich red foliage all summer, which turns fiery bronze in autumn. It is a deciduous garden tree that grows to 20 feet (6m) in height and width. It bears ascending branches thus forming an oval to rounded crown at maturity. It produces beautiful double rose pink flowers in spring. These bowl-shaped blooms are borne in groups of 2 to 4 just as the leaves are starting to emerge.
Japanese cherry hybrids are known as Sato Zakura in Japan, which translates as “domestic cherries”. Modern convention allows the cultivar name to be placed after the generic name. This is because the exact origin of the ancient hybrids is hard to determine.
Royal Red Norway Maple
Latin name - Acer plantanoides royal red
One of the most beautiful of all Norway maple cultivars, this is a large tree with a crown which is originally conical before becoming broadly round. It has dark purple leaves which turn golden yellow and orange in autumn. Attractive, bright red “keys” are an added feature. Yellow flowers in spring contrast beautifully with emerging purple foliage. It does well on most soil types, tolerates air pollution and resists drought.
Significance: Royal Red Norway Maples are among the 29 purple-leaved trees lining the avenue leading to the Royal Army Medical Corps memorial – one for each of the Corp’s 29 Victoria Cross recipients.
Latin name - Sorbus sargentiana
This species of rowan is native to southwestern Sichuan and northern Yunnan in China, where it grows at altitudes of 6,500-10,500 feet (2,000–3,200m). It is grown as an ornamental in western Europe for its bold foliage, huge clusters of fruit, and bright autumn colour. This is another introduction to the UK by E H Wilson in 1910.
Sessile or Durmast Oak
Latin name - Quercus petraea
This species of oak is native to Great Britain and mid Europe. Significant botanical differences with English Oak include the stalked leaves, and the stalkless (sessile) acorns. It is found more frequently than English Oak in upland areas that have a higher rainfall, but also the lighter soils, which it prefers.
Significance: The Royal Navy was once said to be founded on “Hearts of Oak” – a reference to the stoic nature of British seaman. The Merchant Navy Convoy Memorial consists of 2,535 Sessile Oaks representing every British flagged merchant vessel lost to enemy action during the Second World War.
Latin name - Betula pendula
This birch is widespread across Europe although in southern Europe it’s only found at higher altitudes. Its range extends into southwest Asia in the mountains of northern Turkey and the Caucasus. It’s often planted as a garden and ornamental tree, grown for its white bark and gracefully drooping shoots.
Significance: Silver birches can be found on the Royal Air Force Wing memorial, their silvery-white bark evoking the aluminium and other metals used in aircraft.
Latin name - Tilia cordata
This tree is native to much of Europe and western Asia, north to southern Great Britain (as far north as Durham), central Scandinavia, east to central Russia, and south to central Spain, Italy, Bulgaria and the Caucasus. It’s restricted to high altitudes in the south of its range.
Latin name - Sambucus Nigra
This species of elder native to most of Europe grows in a variety of conditions, including both wet and dry fertile soils, primarily in sunny locations. It is a deciduous shrub or small tree and the bark, light grey when young, changes to a coarse grey with lengthwise furrowing. The fruit is a dark purple to black berry produced in drooping clusters in the late Autumn.
Significance: At the Arboretum this tree commemorates Ann Frank and its blossoms are cut off on her birthday with the result that no fruit is produced.
Latin name - Sorbus Vilmorinii
This is a species of ornamental rowan tree often grown for its exotic attractive berries. The flowers are white, and the fruit that follows is a light-pink berry that can last through winter and is eaten by birds when food supplies are low. When fully grown it can be up to 16.5 feet (5m) tall. It originated from China, and was introduced to Europe in the 19th century. Like all rowans it can be cooked and used to make bitter jellies or marmalades.
Latin name - Prunus avium
This species of cherry is native to Europe, west Turkey, northwest Africa, and western Asia. All parts of the plant except for the ripe fruit are slightly toxic, containing cyanogenic glycosides. The fruits are readily eaten by numerous birds and mammals, which digest the fruit flesh and disperse the seeds in their droppings. Some rodents and a few birds (notably the Hawfinch) also crack open the stones to eat the kernel inside.
Significance: Cherries, crab apples and other fruit trees feature in the Co-op ‘Trees for Life’ sectionof the Arboretum. Cherries, plums, pears, apples and walnuts feature at the Royal Logistics Corps memorial as originally it was part of the Corp’s duty to forage for food during campaigns abroad.