An ancient evergreen oak, thought to have been planted at the University of St Andrews in 1740, is one of 70 special trees across the UK selected to form part of The Queen’s Green Canopy network unveiled this week (Sunday 1 May) in celebration of Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee.
The iconic St Andrews Holm Oak in St Mary’s Quadrangle is said to be one of the healthiest specimens of Quercus ilex, introduced to Great Britain in about 1500. The instantly recognisable tree is one of just a few good examples of the species in Scotland. Its short trunk is an impressive 3.67 metres in girth and is the largest recorded for a Holm Oak in Scotland. The tree continues to flourish despite suffering storm damage on several occasions and even a close call with a bomb, which fell on the Quad in October 1940.
Trees in The Queen’s Green Canopy network, which also includes 70 Ancient Woodlands across the UK, were chosen to reflect a range of themes – Royal, history, children, education, literature/creative arts, science, conservation, communities, and health and well-being.
All of the selected trees have a story to tell – some are famous specimens, while those throughout our neighbourhoods have local significance as natural wonders. By sharing their stories, as well as the incredible efforts to protect them, The Queen’s Green Canopy aims to raise awareness of these treasured habitats and the importance of conserving them for future generations. The Ancient Tree dedication marks the start of a long-term project to propagate material to ensure that the genetic resource and unique characteristics of some of the UK’s most important trees is preserved.
In addition to preserving our ancient trees, The Queen’s Green Canopy is also looking to the future by encouraging people and organisations across the UK to ‘Plant a Tree for the Jubilee’, in recognition of Her Majesty’s 70 years of service.
With a focus on planting sustainably, everyone involved is being encouraged to play their part to enhance the environment by planting trees during the growing season. Many thousands of trees were planted in the first few months of this year and planting will resume in October.
Speaking at the launch of the initiative, Queen’s Green Canopy Patron, HRH The Prince of Wales, said: “These working woodlands and magnificent trees span our nation’s amazing landscape and exist for everyone to enjoy. The Ancient woodlands and trees can be found in urban as well as rural environments, from National Parks to residential areas, representing the unique diversity of all corners of the United Kingdom.
“Trees and woodlands have profound significance for us all – their steadfast and reassuring presence a reminder of our long-serving Sovereign and her enduring dedication. Let us ensure that in her name we can now protect and strengthen this wonderful living Canopy for the next 70 years and, hopefully, way beyond. And, above all, let us ensure that future generations can celebrate and enjoy them.”
There are just two trees in North East Fife on The Queen’s Green Canopy Ancient Trees list – the other being the Balmerino Sweet Chestnut at Balmerino Abbey, thought to have been planted by Mary Queen of Scots in 1565.