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Sycamore, Sitka Spruce, Oak, Ash, Fir. Trees can be divided into two groups:
Coniferous and Broad-leaved.

Conifers produce cones and most have leaves like needles. Conifers generally hold their leaves year round.

Broad-leaved trees are generally deciduous in that they shed their wide flat leaves in the autumn.

There are large groups of trees under the two main groups:


Trees are nourished by their leaves. Every leaf is a complicated chemical powerhouse where carbon dioxide from the air together with water from the roots is made into carbohydrates under light, a food producing process called photosynthesis. The carbohydrates or sugar rich sap manufactured in the leaves is then taken through special channels, known as phloem to all parts of the tree. As this takes place water and essential minerals from the soil flow upwards through channels known as xylem.

Sitka Spruce
he tree was discovered by David Douglas on the west coast of America in 1831 but only became popular during the second world war when it was used in the aircraft industry. It grows very quickly and in its native country can grow to a height of 270ft. The Sitka Spruce grows well on damp, even peaty soils. It can tolerate exposed conditions better than most trees, this tolerance explains its popularity as a commercial tree.

Sitka is easy to work with it takes glue and nails well and is therefore ideal for flooring, roofing and other interior construction work. It also ideal for paper pulping because of the strength of it's fibres and it's pale colour which requires little or no bleaching.

Sitka Spruce. .. Sycamore.

Sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus
It is Europe's largest maple, growing to a height of 115ft. It is sometimes called the great plane. Years ago it was grown beside houses and dairies to give shelter and shade. It grows rapidly and survives well on uplands. It's wood is creamy white and is easy to work with. It does not warp and is favoured by furniture makers. It's decorative grained pieces are used for veneers and for musical instruments.The sycamore has a huge domed outline with dense foliage and casts a deep shade.

Pinus contorta / Lodgepole Pine.

Lodgepole Pine - Pinus contorta


Conifers have male and female flowers, the females at the top of the new shoots and males underneath, usually clustered. In the case of pines the females are usually fewer and smaller. In the image left, we see a large cluster of male flowers, the females are barely visible at the tip of the shoot.

Warm updraughts carry the pollen from males to females. The fertilised female flowers become cones containing the tree's seeds.

Trees with needles grouped in twos, threes or fives are easily identified as pines, the needles will differ in size. In the image left the needles seem to be grouped in twos.



The oak belongs to a family which includes the sweet chestnut and beech and is of the genus, or group, Quercus. There are over 450 species of oak spread over the north temperate zone, with about 60 North American species. They have simple leaves with lobed or toothed edges. Male and female flowers grow on the same oak, the males being clusters of catkins. Wind carries pollen from them to the female flowers, which later form the acorns. The flowers come out at the same time as the wavy-edged leaves. The bark of young oaks is smooth, but with the passing years it becomes thick and furrowed. Oak trees can live for over 800 years. It's timber is greatly valued.



The European ash (Fraxinus excelsior) grows to 40 metres (130 feet) and is one of thelargest species. The flowering ash (Fraxinus ornus) of southern Europe is unusual among the ashes in producing masses of creamy-white, fragrant flowers. Ash wood is straight-grained, hard, and fairly light, and has a large number of uses. The Greek warrior Achilles is said to have killed Hector with an ash spear in the Trojan War. It is used for tool handles, baseball bats, tennis rackets, skis, hockey sticks, and of course hurleys, for the famous Irish sport of hurling. Because of its good bending qualities, it is also used for boat-building and for some furniture. Since ash is free of odour and taste, staves are often made from its wood to make barrels that contain food.



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