Tag Archives: trees

Trialling treelessness…

Towards the end of last year, Natural Resources Wales gave notice that they planned to fell a four hectare block of the forest in order to establish an area in which to conduct “hydrological monitoring”. Off and on through the winter that clearfelling and site “preparation” work has been ongoing. The major works have now finished, the machines have left and the site has been fenced off…


The area clearfelled on the edge of the forest for hydrological monitoring.


NRW information sign for the hydrology trial site

The management of the forest is always a controversial issue and this trial is no exception…

The plan is for the area to be grazed: clearly that can’t happen for a while as the surface has been scraped and raked clear of all the vegetation that was there.  That is why the smart new fencing has been put around the area (to contain the future grazing animals), even though the forest is a designated open access area…

And then, in four years time, the area may or may not be planted with some scrubby/shrubby trees like rowans, hawthorns, hazels and birches.


Newborough Forest clearfell coupe April 2018


Apples and wild cherries – a short walk

Dotted throughout the forest there are various kinds of apple tree and lots of wild cherries (Prunus avium or the gean tree – one of the predecessors of today’s cultivated sweet cherry trees).

Some of the apples have probably grown from pips, others are more like the native wild crab apples, and maybe some are linked back to when there were houses and gardens where the forest now stands.

The wild cherries are very tart, and they’re more stone than flesh, but they’re nice neverthless. They work particularly well in cooked dishes, like apple pie or crumble, adding a beautiful colour and subtle tangy taste.

There is a lovely short walk from the Malltraeth car park at the northern edge of Newborough Forest that leads you through plenty of these fruit trees.

Head out of the car park on the path beside the little corral for horses. The path is quite clear, following along the edge of the forest and the salt marshes that flank the Malltraeth sands.

In the wetter places boardwalks have been installed.

Newborough Forest boardwalk

Keep following the path to the little wooden bridge.

Newborough Forest wooden bridge

Here you can turn left and it will lead you back to the main forest track. Or you can continue on, passing through mixed woodland. The trees are thickly cloaked with lichens and draped with honeysuckle – it smells wonderful in mid-summer. The cherries and apples are dotted throughout, but once they’ve finished flowering, they become inconspicuous.

Newborough Forest willow draped in lichens

This path too will bring you back to the main forest track. At this time of the year (May) long stretches of it are bordered by cherries in blossom.

Newborough cherry blossoms

The short circuit is about 1km, the longer one about 2km – but they can both take quite a long time because there is so much to stop and see along the way!

The grid reference for the Malltraeth forest car park is SH411671.

The sweet sweet smell of . . . balsam poplar

Finally spring feels and smells like it has arrived, heralded in by the sweet smell of balsam poplar.  There aren’t many poplars in Newborough Forest. However, a few balsam poplars were planted as part of a trial.

Poplar - Newborough Forest

Poplar – Newborough Forest

When their sticky buds start to open, they fill the air with a distinctive smell.  It’s hard to describe: it’s very heady and smells quite exotic, not like the usual smells of Wales and pine forests!  Some say it is sickly, and it’s true that it can be.  But for me, it always smells like spring.

These are the male flowers - a beautiful mulberry-like colour. A piece of the bud scale is still attached to the top one

These are the male flowers – a beautiful mulberry-like colour. A piece of the bud scale is still attached to the top one

Poplar flowers, twig and bud

Here you can see the sticky buds on the twig, blown down by last night’s storm.

If you’re visiting the forest in the next few weeks and you smell a strange, sweet, heady smell, there’s a good chance that the poplars are where it’s coming from.

Newborough: a forest of many trees…

Approaching Newborough Forest from the Malltraeth Cob

Approaching Newborough Forest from the Malltraeth Cob

That seems like a silly title – of course a forest has many trees, but what I meant in particular is that Newborough Forest contains many different kinds of trees. It isn’t “just a pine forest”, although it certainly has lots of pines. It also has a diverse range of other species of trees too, including a wide range of broadleaves. Eagle eyed tree spotters can look out for:

Corsican pine – Pinus nigra ssp laricio. This is the tree most often planted and represented over 90% of the canopy in 2010 – management operations mean that percent is now somewhat lower.

Other pines to look out for (including some relatively unusual ones) are:
Maritime pine – Pinus pinaster
Macedonian pine – Pinus peuce
Lodgepole pine – Pinus contorta
Weymouth pine – Pinus strobus
Monterey pine – Pinus radiata
Bishop pine – Pinus muricata
Virginia pine – Pinus virginiana
Japanese red pine – Pinus densiflora
Jeffrey pine – Pinus jeffreyi
Scots pine – Pinus sylvestris
Stone pine – Pinus pinea

And, it isn’t just pines. Other conifers include:
Sitka spruce – Picea sitchensis
Norway spruce – Picea abies

Caucasian fir – Abies nordmanniana
Grand fir – Abies grandis
Noble fir – Abies procera

Monterey cypress – Cupressus macrocarpa

Western hemlock – Tsuga heterophylla

Western red cedar – Thuja plicata
Japanese red cedar – Cryptomeria japonica

Japanese larch – Larix kaempferi

Yew – Taxus baccata

And, there are also lots of broadleaves, more in some areas than others. They include:
Cherry – Prunus avium
Birch – Betula spp
Holly – Ilex aquifolium
Hawthorn – Crataegus monogyna
Sycamore – Acer pseudoplatanus
Rowan – Sorbus aucuparia
Ash – Fraxinus excelsior
Walnut – Juglans regia
Oak – Quercus petraea
Holm oak – Quercus ilex
Hazel – Corylus avellana
Apple – Malus
Crab apple – Malus sylvestris
Poplar (balsam) – Populus X
Elder – Sambucus nigra
Tamarisk – Tamarix
Willow – Salix
Alder – Alnus glutinosa
Elm – Ulmus
Spindle tree – Euonymus europaeus
Horse chestnut – Aesculus hippocastum
Sweet chestnut – Castanea sativa
Himalayan cotoneaster – Cotoneaster simonsii (one of the targets for eradication by the Forestry Commission as they consider it too invasive)

And that is by no means an exhaustive list. Happy tree spotting!

Newborough Forest tree spotting checklist (this is a pdf listing of most of the trees in the forest, that you can download and print. 283KB)