Try out our TREE TRAIL and let us know how you got on.
There are over 120 trees in the Pleasaunce but we have picked out just one in each species to write about on this trail.
The tree names are the ‘common’ names, whilst those in brackets are the botanical names, and are mostly in Latin.
One of the latest additions is a tree planted in memory of Richard Bartlett, 1929 – 2007, by his widow. We have renamed this tree 15 as the Mulberry tree on the map has been felled last winter.
Although you may join the trail at any point, the first tree on this trail, a Birch, is situated on the left hand side as you enter the Pleasaunce from the entrance in Chevening Road. This entrance is just off the main Woolwich Road in Greenwich SE10
A visit to all 21 trees in our trail, with a few minutes’ stop at each, will take you about an hour.
The terrain is flat throughout so wheelchair users can navigate around easily and for the most part, paths are of good quality.
You may like to bring a packed lunch with you. Alternatively, there is a cafe with public toilets situated on the South side of the park. The café is open from 8am to 5pm everyday.
Two orchards have been planted over the last few years by the London Orchard Company. There are six trees in each orchard but they aren’t numbered.
There are Apple, Pear, Plum and Cherry trees and they are now looked after by PIP, Planting in the Pleasaunce. PIP holds a Wassail just after Christmas and an Apple Day in the autumn. Each tree has a picture of the fruit on it and a description. They are now pretty much established and except in very dry weather require little in the way of watering.
We also have the memorial bench surrounded by Silver Birch trees, just outside the dog free zone. This is lovely spot to sit and contemplate. These again are not numbered
1 Birch (Betula pendula) 5 to 10 meters
The first tree you will see as you enter the Pleasaunce is a Birch Tree. Birch is a broadleaved deciduous hardwood tree of the genus Betula in the family Betulaceae, which also includes alders, hazels, and hornbeams, and is closely related to the beech/oak family.
The bark of all birches is characteristically marked with long, horizontal lenticels, and often separates into thin, papery plates, especially upon the paper birch. It is resistant to decay, due to the resinous oil it contains. Its decided colour gives the common names gray, white, black, silver and yellow birch to different species.
Birch species are generally small to medium-sized trees or shrubs, and the simple leaves are alternate and are feather-veined. The fruit is a small samara, although the wings may be obscure in some species. They differ from the alders in that the female catkins are not woody and disintegrate at maturity, falling apart to release the seeds, unlike the woody, cone-like female alder catkins.
The wood of all the species is close-grained with satiny texture, and capable of taking a fine polish; its fuel value is fair.
2–5 Lime (Tilia species) Up to 5 meters
This attractive tree is often planted in parks and gardens, both for its pleasing shape and the shade it affords. Limes are often known as Linden trees. It can grow to a great height – up to 39m (130ft).
It produces fragrant yellow flowers, which appear in mid June / early July. The fruits – small ‘bobbles’ – dangle down on stalks. The big leaves are often covered with a sticky resin (called ‘honey dew’), which is produced by aphids, which live on them.
Lime-flowers are used to make a satisfying and relaxing tea, which, apart from being a nice drink, is good for indigestion, anxiety, nervous vomiting or palpitations.
Lime wood has a pale, creamy-brown colour. It is fairly soft, but keeps a firm edge when it has been carved. Wood carvers choose it as it can be worked in any direction and is a good medium for fine wood sculpture.
6 Holly (Ilex aquifolium) Up to 5 meters
7– 8 Ash (Fraxinus excelsior ‘Pendula’) 5 to 10 meters
The ash is native to Europe, including Britain, Ash is an important timber tree. The wood has an even, pale creamy-brown colour, and is hard and strong and resistant to shock.
It is preferred to other native timber in the making of handles of hammers, axes, chisels, shovels and all tools subject to strain and shock.
It is used in the interiors of houses and was used to make the shafts of carts, the rims of cart-wheels and the frame of the classic Morris ‘Traveller’ car. It is also used to make hockey sticks and oars.
Ash grows up to 45m tall, but even at this height, its girth will not exceed 6.7m. It is easily identifiable by its jet-black buds, set in pairs, with one main ‘leading’ bud at the tip of each branch.
Flowering occurs in April. Seeds (‘keys’) are produced, in clusters, and fall in autumn. Each has a single, twist wing that keeps it airborne until it has drifted away from the parent tree.
The people of Scandinavia worshipped the Ash as a sacred tree.
9 Sorbus (Sorbus aucuparia) Up to 5 meters. Sorbus, more commonly called rowan and mountain-ash is a species of deciduous tree or shrub in the rose family. It is a highly variable species, and botanists have used different definitions of the species to include or exclude trees native to certain areas which includes trees native to most of Europe and parts of Asia, as well as northern Africa. The range extends from Madeira and Iceland to Russia and northern China. Unlike many plants with similar distributions, it is not native to Japan.
It has a slender trunk with smooth bark, a loose and roundish crown, and its leaves are pinnate in pairs of leaflets on a central vein with a terminal leaflet. It blossoms from May to June in dense corymbs of small yellowish white flowers and develops small red pomes as fruit that ripen from August to October and are eaten by many bird species. The plant is undemanding and frost hardy and grows in unaccessible places as a short-lived pioneer species.
Fruit and foliage of Mountain Ash have been used in the creation of dishes and beverages, as a folk medicine, and as fodder for livestock. Its tough and flexible wood has traditionally been used for woodworking. It is planted to fortify soil in mountain regions or as an ornamental tree and has several cultivars.
10 Birch (Betula pendula)
11 Holly (Ilex aquifolium) Up to 5 meters
12 Acer (Acer platanoides) Up to 5 meters commenly known as Maple it comes in a 128 different species, This one has beautiful golden leaves in spring. It has opposite leaf arrangement and in most species the leaves are veined and lobed.
Maple flowers are green, yellow, orange or red. Though individually small, the effect of an entire tree in flower can be striking in several species. Some maples are an early spring source of pollen and nectar for bees.
The distinctive fruit are called samaras, “maple keys”, “helicopters”, “whirlybirds” or “polynoses”. These seeds occur in distinctive pairs each containing one seed enclosed in a “nutlet” attached to a flattened wing of fibrous, papery tissue. They are shaped to spin as they fall and to carry the seeds a considerable distance on the wind. People often call them “helicopters” due to the way that they spin as they fall. During World War II, the US Army developed a special air drop supply carrier that could carry up to 65 pounds of supplies and was based on the Maple seed.
13 Holly (Ilex aquifolium) Up to 5 meters
14 Cherry (Prunus species) Up to 5 meters This is an ornamental cherry as the cherry fruit is usually obtained from a limited number of species such as the Prunus avium. Take a look at the cherry trees in the orchard.
15 The old Mulberry tree was felled in 2015 as it had split and was deemed dangerous. The stump is still visible near the entrance. But it has been replaced with this tree which was planted in memory of Richard Bartlett and has a plaque at its base.
16 Cherry (Prunus species) Up to 5 meters
17 Birch (Betula pendula) 5 to 10 meters
18-20 Cherry (Prunus species) Up to 5 meters
21 Holly (Ilex aquifolium) 5 to 10 meters
22-23 Holm Oak (Quercus ilex) 10 to 15 meters
Giving park users loads of shade in the dog free zone, these two Holm Oaks at first sight look like giant hollies; (holm is an old local name for the holly and the Latin name for a holly is ilex).
The Holm Oak originates in the countries around the Mediterranean Sea. It thrives in countries with hot, dry summers and cool rainy winters.
Unlike the deciduous English Oak, the Holm Oak retains its leaves in winter. Oval in shape, with a thick, leathery texture, each leaf can live for about three years.
In the spring, pale green shoots sprout from the tree’s dark foliage. The bark is dark grey to black, broken into a myriad of small, rough, irregular squares. The heartwood (i.e. the inner part of the trunk) is very hard and heavy and is used in decorative wood ware where great strength is needed. It makes first-rate firewood.
The waxy leaves are resistant to salt-laden winds and the Holm Oak is often planted as a shelter-belt in southern coastal towns. The acorn of the Holm Oak is oval in shape, with a pointed tip. It grows in an acorn cup, which covers more than half its length and is eaten by pigs and birds.
24-25 Maple (Acer platanoides) 5 to 10 meters
26-27 Holly (lex aquifolium) Up to 5 meters
28 Poplar (Populas nigra) 10 to 15 meters
The native Black Poplar a thousand years ago thrived across the lowland floodplains of England. Its massive bulk was almost as common as the English Oak. However, since the beginning of the 19th century, its natural habitat has been steadily eroded by housing and farming. In 200 years, this great tree has been vanishing from the landscape. It is now Britain’s rarest native timber tree. However, its many cultivars and varieties are widespread, and the tree you are looking at is one such. A Hybrid Black Poplar can grow to 43m tall (140ft) and can have a girth of up to 8.2m (27ft) round.
The following relates to the ‘true’ Black Poplar: The mature tree is massive; it can be up to 30 metres high, with a trunk up to 2 metres in diameter. It will often grow close to water, in lowland areas. It will often lean sideways. Its bark is heavily ‘bossed’, or ‘fissured’, looking black from a distance (hence the name) whilst, in reality, it is dark grey-brown. The Black Poplar’s lower branches arch downwards, sometimes reaching the ground and its pale yellow twigs are sticky towards the tips. In the spring, the male tree produces deep red catkins, known as ‘Devil’s Fingers’. Females produce lime-green catkins and a white, downy seed, in June.
The rather mysterious, gnarly look has long given the Black Poplar a spiritual attraction, too. In some parts of the country it was the subject of tree-dressing ceremonies, dating back centuries, and whose origins are now unknown.
The Black Poplar needs very specialised conditions in which to propagate; its seeds need to lie undisturbed on bare, wet mud or silt from June to October to germinate successfully – conditions that became harder to find as Britain grew more industrialised and more heavily populated. As the need for native timber as a building resource dwindled and fewer Black Poplars were planted, this propagation difficulty became even more important.
A further complication was that only male trees had generally been planted – females were considered a nuisance, because of the drifting white ‘down’ they produce.
Over the last ten years or so, a national campaign to save the Black Poplar has been running. Nurseries have managed to collect seed from the true tree and produce saplings, which are being planted in suitable places throughout the land.
Greenwich Council, in partnership with local and regional conservation bodies, is in the process of producing a ‘Biodiversity Action Plan’ for the Borough. (Biodiversity means the ‘variety of Life forms’). This Action Plan will focus on the Borough’s important habitats and species – including those at risk. It includes the appreciation and re-introduction of the Black Poplar, a number of which have already been planted within the Borough.
29 Oak – Pedunculate or Enlish Oak (Quercus robur) Up to 5 meters
A true classic native to Europe & widespread throughout. Its acorns (from the old Danish words korn, meaning ‘oak seed’) are set on long stalks, or ‘peduncles’. Its leaves, by contrast, are short-stalked, or stalk-less.
The Oak can grow to a very old age, possibly to about 800 years old. It is valued for its timber, especially in the past, when Oak forests covered much of Britain.
The uses of Oak follow its properties of great strength and durability; these include fencing, the construction of timber barns and half-timbered houses, churches, ships, tables, chairs and joinery. It also makes beer barrels and sherry casks.
The Oak flowers in May, producing small, yellow flowers. Acorns, which provide food for squirrels, woodpeckers, jays, pheasants and wood mice, are produced in plentiful numbers only in ‘mast’ years (from the Scandinavian mat meaning food). In non ‘mast years’, acorn production will be relatively small. Although most get eaten, some animals will bury acorns in the ground, as a winter food store. Those that germinate will grow.
In the past, and continuing to this day in the New Forest, acorns are used for fattening pigs. Following a good crop, Commoners gather acorns under a ‘Right of Pannage’ (from the Norman French pesner, meaning ‘to grub with the snout’).
The Common Oak may grow to more than 30m. The highest one was recorded at 37m. The Druids in Celtic Britain held it as a sacred tree.
30-32 Holly (llex aquifolium)Up to 5 meters
The name “holly” in common speech refers to Ilex aquifolium, specifically stems with berries used in Christmas decoration
Holly is a genus of 400 to 600 species of flowering plants in the family Aquifoliaceae, and the only living genus in that family. The species are evergreen and deciduous trees, shrubs, and climbers from tropics to temperate zones worldwide.
The genus Ilex is widespread throughout the world and is a small, evergreen trees with smooth, pubescent branchlets. The plants are generally slow-growing and the European holly, Ilex aquifolium described have alternate glossy leaves, typically with a spiny toothed, or serrated leaf margin. The inconspicuous flower is greenish white, with four petals. They are generally dioecious, with male and female flowers on different plants
The small fruits of Ilex, although often referred to as berries, are technically drupes. They range in colour from red to brown to black, and rarely green or yellow. The fruits ripen in winter and thus provide winter colour contrast between the bright red of the fruits and the glossy green evergreen leaves. Hence the cut branches are widely used in Christmas decoration. The fruits are generally slightly toxic to humans, and can cause vomiting and diarrhea when ingested. However, they are a very important food source for birds and other wildlife.
Ilex in Latin means the holm-oak or evergreen oak (Quercus ilex). Despite the Linnaean classification of Ilex as holly, as late as the 19th century in Britain, the term Ilex was still being applied to the oak as well as the holly – possibly due to the superficial similarity of the leaves.
33 Thorn (Crataegus monogyna) 5 to 10 meters
34 Oak (Quercus robur) 10 to 15
35-36 Holly (Ilex aquifolium) 5 to 10 meters
37 Oak (Quercus robur) 10 to 15 meters
38 Holly (Ilex aquifolium) 5 to 10 meters
39 Lime (Tilia cordata)10 to 15
40 Holly (Ilex aquifolium) Up to 5 meters
41-42 Oak (Quercus robur) 15 to 20 meters
43 Lime (Tilia cordata) 15 to 20 meters
44 Holly (Ilex aquifolium) Up to 5 meters
Grp/2 Elm (Ulmus procera) 10 to 15 meters. Elms are deciduous and semi-deciduous trees comprising the genus Ulmus in the plant family Ulmaceae. The genus first appeared in the Miocene geological period about 20 million years ago, originating in what is now central Asia.
These trees flourished and spread over most of the Northern Hemisphere, inhabiting the temperate and tropical-montane regions of North America and Eurasia, ranging southward across the Equator into Indonesia.
Elms are components of many kinds of natural forests. Moreover, during the 19th and early 20th centuries many species and cultivars were also planted as ornamental street, garden, and park trees in Europe, North America, and parts of the Southern Hemisphere. Some individual elms reached great size and age. However, in recent decades, most mature elms of European or North American origin have died from Dutch elm disease, caused by a microfungus dispersed by bark beetles. In response, disease-resistant cultivars have been developed, capable of restoring the elm to forestry and landscaping. Woodpeckers love Elm trees and eat pests such as the elm leaf beetle which decimate foliage.
45 The Weeping Beech The most loved and well known tree in the Pleasaunce. Also known as the Creepy Tree as many of the children call it.
The dome-shaped crown of arching branches weeping to the ground, with ovate leaves turning yellow in autumn
The Weeping Birch (Betula) 5 to 10 meters
This Birch tree is just behind the Weeping Beech, It colours well in autumn and has striking white, pink or peeling brown bark. Separate male and female catkins open before with the leaves in spring.)
46 Oak (Quercus ilex ) Up to 5 meters Minor defects GS
47 Fir (Abies) Up to 5 meters
Fir (Abies) is a genus of 48–55 species of evergreen coniferous tree in the family Pinaceae. It is found through much America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa, occurring in mountains over most of the range.
Firs are most closely related to the genus Cedrus (cedar); Douglas firs are not true firs, being of the genus Pseudotsuga.
All native species reach heights of 10–80 m (30–260 ft) tall and trunk diameters of 0.5–4 m (2–12 ft) when mature.
Firs can be distinguished from other members of the pine family by their needle-like leaves, attached to the twig by a base that resembles a small suction cup; and by erect, cylindrical cones 5–25 cm (2–10 in) long that disintegrate at maturity to release the winged seeds. Identification of the species is based on the size and arrangement of the leaves, the size and shape of the cones, and whether the bract scales of the cones are long and exserted, or short and hidden inside the cone.
48 Maple (Acer platanoides)
49 Pine (Pinus species) 5 to 10 meters
Pines are trees in the genus Pinus in the family Pinaceae. There are about 115 species of pine, and the modern English name pine derives from Latin pinus. (resin)
In the past (pre-19th century) they were often known as fir, from Old Norse fyrre, by way of Middle English firre. The Old Norse name is still used for pines in some modern north European languages, in Danish fyr, in Norwegian fura/fure/furu, Swedish fura/furu, Dutch vuren, and Föhre in German, but in modern English, fir is now restricted to Fir (Abies) and Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga). Pine belongs to a group of seed-producing plants called gymnosperms.
50 -51 The Scots Pine is Britain’s only native conifer. Although widespread in Europe, it is prevalent in the wild in Scotland, hence its name. It is recognisable by its pinkish-grey bark, which on its higher, or more juvenile branches, may be a flaky, orangey-red. Its distinctive needles, set in pairs, are short and bluish green. Clusters of flowers appear in May, which will scatter clouds of golden pollen on the wind. Pine cones take a long time to ripen, the cone scales staying shut for two years after the flowers first appeared. They become brown and woody, and open gradually. The scales, which are not prickly, release tiny winged seeds.
Scots Pine trees have strong, resinous heartwood, within pale brown sapwood. The timber is used for making fence posts, telegraph poles and railway sleepers – all objects that are constantly in contact with damp ground. The wood is easily worked and is used in making furniture and boxes.
The tree can grow to 37 metres (120ft).
Pine produces oil that is much used in herbal medicine. it is extracted by steam distillation from fresh pine needles, branch tips, and shoots and is used in ointments and bath salts as a remedy for bronchitis, coughs and colds, fever, nerve pain, rheumatism and a sore throat. It is commonly a main ingredient (often in a synthetic form) of disinfectant.
52 Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) 5 to 20 meters
53 Thorn (Crataegus monogyna)5 to 10 meters. Quick thorn, May blossom, whitethorn, motherdie or hawthorn and some of the names used to describe the common thorn. It is a shrub or small tree with a dense crown. The bark is dull brown with vertical orange cracks. The younger stems bear sharp thorns, 1 to 1.5 cm long. The leaves are 2–4 cm long, obovate and deeply lobed, sometimes almost to the midrib, with the lobes spreading at a wide angle. The upper surface is dark green above and paler underneath.
The hermaphrodite flowers are produced in late spring (May to early June in its native area) in corymbs of 5-25 together; each flower is about 1 cm diameter, and has five white petals, numerous red stamens, and a single style; they are moderately fragrant.
The flowers are pollinated by midges, bees and other insects and later in the year bear numerous haws. The haw is a small, oval dark red fruit about 1 cm long, berry-like, but structurally a pome containing a single seed. Haws are important for wildlife in winter, particularly thrushes and waxwings; these birds eat the haws and disperse the seeds in their droppings.
54-55 Holly (Ilex species Holly) 5 to 10 meters
56 Indian Horse Chestnut (Aesculus indica) Up to 5 meters
The Indian horse chestnut, a native to the north-west Himalaya and planted in parks and gardens, as it is a majestic and decorative tree. It can reach 30m (110 ft).
It flowers in June and July, later than the Common Horse Chestnut. The bark is a greenish-grey on young specimens, but becomes reddish and smooth as the tree matures.
57-58 Holly (Ilex species)
59 Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) 10 to 15 meters
Native to northern Greece and Albania, introduced to Britain from Greece in about 1616, this tree is to be found wild all over the country, but is frequently seen in parks or lining avenues. It is recognisable by its cluster of leaves, usually of five, spreading like the palm of a hand. The fruit is covered with a spiky green husk. When removed, a hard brown nut – the conker – is revealed.
Horse chestnut flowers open in late April / May in upright, candle-like clusters. The timber is a pale cream in colour, light in weight and rather weak. It has little commercial value, although it is sometimes used for toy making and in children’s games.
The tree matures in about 100 years and can reach heights of up to 41m (134 ft). This tree has a long association with horses. Indeed, the Greek word Hippos means ‘horse’. Conkers were fed to horses to remedy lameness. The healing property extends to humans, too. If one were to purchase a remedy for varicose veins, it would probably contain extract of Horse Chestnut.
60 Thorn (Crataegus monogyna) Up to 5 meters
61 Pine (Pinus species)5 to 10 meters
62 Holly (Ilex aquifolium)
63 Box Hedge (Buxus sempervirens) is commonly planted in gardens as a clipped, formal plant or hedge, although there are many types available that are ideal for naturalistic planting. While box has been a traditional stalwart in gardens and parks, it is now proving more difficult to grow well due to disease and pests marring their neat appearance. Box Blight has not taken over here and the hedges are trimmed at least once a year. It is also commonly used for topiary.
64-66 Holly (Ilex species) 5 to 10 meters
67 Lime (Tilia species) 15 to 20 meters
68 Thorn (Crataegus monogyna)
69 Beech (Fagus sylvatica) 15 to 20 meters
70-71 Pine (Pinus species)
72-74 Poplar (Populus species) 5 to 10 meters
75-76 Leyland Cypress (Cupressus leylandii) 5 to 10 meters
77–83 Poplar (Populus species) 5 to 10 meters
84-85 Leyland Cypress (Cupressus leylandii) 5 to 10 meters is often referred to simply as leylandii. It is a fast-growing coniferous evergreen tree much used in horticulture, primarily for hedges and screens. Even on sites of relatively poor culture, plants have been known to grow to heights of 15 metres (49 ft) in 16 years.
In 1845, the Leighton Hall, Powys estate was purchased by the Liverpool banker Christopher Leyland. In 1847, he gave it to his nephew John Naylor (1813–1889). Naylor commissioned Edward Kemp to lay out the gardens, which included redwoods, monkey puzzle trees and two North American species of conifers in close proximity to each other – Monterey cypress and Nootka cypress. The two parent species would not likely cross in the wild as their natural ranges are more than 400 miles apart, but in 1888 the hybrid cross occurred when the female flowers or cones of Nootka cypress were fertilised by pollen from Monterey cypress.
John Naylor’s eldest son Christopher John (1849–1926) inherited Leighton Hall and the Leyland Entailed Estates following the death of his uncle Thomas Leyland. On receiving the inheritance Christopher changed his surname to Leyland, and moved to Haggerston Castle, Northumberland. He further developed the hybrid at his new home, and hence named the first clone variant ‘Haggerston Grey’. His younger brother John (1856–1906) resultantly inherited Leighton Hall, and when in 1911 the reverse hybrid of the cones of the Monterey cypress were fertilised with pollen from the Nootka, that hybrid was baptised ‘Leighton Green’.
The hybrid has since arisen on nearly 20 separate occasions, always by open pollination, showing the two species are readily compatible and closely related. As a hybrid, although fertility of certain Leyland cypress forms were recently reported, most Leyland cypress were thought to be sterile, and nearly all the trees we now see have resulted from cuttings originating from those few plants.
86 Beech (agus sylvatica) 15 to 20 meters
87 Lime (Tilia cordata) 15 to 20 meters
88 Chestnut (Aesculus indica) 15 to 20 meters
89-91 Pistachios in the Park – The Cafe
92-94 Lime (Tilia cordata) 10 to 15 meters
95-98 Holly (Ilex species) Up to 5 meters
99-100Birch (Betula species) 5 to 10 meters
101 Oak (Quercus robur)15 to 20 meters
102 Maple (Acer platanoides)15 to 20 meters Right next to the Bridge, the community centre, is the Acer platanoides or Norway maple. It is a species of maple native to eastern and central Europe and southwest Asia, from France east to Russia, north to southern Scandinavia and southeast to northern Iran.
The bark is grey-brown and shallowly grooved; unlike many other maples, mature trees do not tend to develop a shaggy bark.
The shoots are green at first, soon becoming pale brown; the winter buds are shiny red-brown.
The leaves are opposite, palmately lobed with five lobes, The flowers are in corymbs of 15–30 together, yellow to yellow-green with five sepals and five petals and about 3–4 mm long.
Flowering occurs in early spring before the new leaves emerge. The fruit is a double samara with two winged seeds; the seeds are disc-shaped, strongly flattened and fly through the air. It typically produces a large quantity of viable seeds.
Under ideal conditions in its native range, Norway Maple may live up to 250 years, but often has a much shorter life expectancy, sometimes only 60 years.
Especially when used on streets, it can have insufficient space for its root network and is prone to the roots wrapping around themselves, girdling and killing the tree.
We hope you have enjoyed this trail, and if you know of anyone who could put it on an app for use on a mobile phone it would be very useful. Please add any comments which we can include