NEWS FROM EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK
The number of Exmoor’s whitebeam trees is set to increase if a new project by National Park Authority succeeds in raising some rare whitebeam or Sorbus tree varieties from seed from its own woodlands.
Woodland Projects Support Officer Loren Eldred commented: “This autumn has been such an excellent season for tree fruit and nuts that we hoped that we might be lucky with finding some fruit on some of the rare Sorbus trees this year, so we were delighted when we came across a good number of fruit from Sorbus margaretae trees at Culbone Wood and even more fruit from several Sorbus devoniensis trees at Timberscombe Woods.”
The National Park Authority is working with Tim Greenland from local tree nursery, Exmoor Trees in Exford who will be attempting to germinate some of the Sorbus seeds extracted from the fruits this winter. If this proves successful and the trees can be raised, they will be planted back into the Authority’s woodlands when they are a few years old in order to help the species to grow strongly in future.
Tim Greenland said: “I am pleased to be working with Exmoor National Park Authority on this project. Although it can be difficult to germinate the Sorbus seeds, I am hopeful that by spring next year, we will have been able to raise a number of the tree seedlings.”
Some of the Sorbus species are extremely rare in the UK, numbering just a few hundred trees or less. Exmoor National Park is fortunate to contain several of the rare Sorbus species, particularly along the steep, rocky coastal woodlands and valleys, which grow nowhere else in the world. They can be difficult to tell apart and identification in the field has to rely on subtle differences between leaves, flowers and berries. Sorbus devoniensis is slightly more widespread than some of the other rare Sorbus species and tends to grow along woodland edges and in old hedges in the west country of England, but it is still not a common tree.
Exmoor National Park Authority has more information about the rare Sorbus varieties in the Trees and Woodlands pages on their website: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk