Trees are all around us, in parks and gardens, as well as the countryside, but how many do you actually recognise? In a recent survey one in 20 people questioned couldn't name any of Britain's common trees. Leaf through our collection of Britain's most common trees and learn how to spot them.
The oak is the most common British tree, and one that most people can recognise, with its wiggly-edged leaves and acorns in autumn. Having said that, a recent survey showed that 44% of people asked couldn't recognise an oak tree. There are over 300 varieties.
Historically oaks were used for shipbuilding, and their acorns were used as pig-fattening fodder. Oaks were sacred to ancient Greeks, the Norse and the Celts.
In Latin: Quercus robur
Reaching a height of up to 35 metres, it's often planted in urban areas as it can withstand pollution well. It was traditionally used for carving love spoons in Wales. Most of us will remember playing with its winged seed-pods in autumn, which spin like helicopter blades when thrown into the air, or falling from the tree. Its bark is pink-grey and smooth.
In Latin: Acer pseudoplatanus
Most of us can recognise a ‘conker tree' from its glossy brown conkers in autumn. It has five-fingered splayed-out fan-like leaves and has white and pink candle-like flowers in May. It grows to around 25 metres and the conkers are mildly poisonous, so not to be confused with the edible variety, the sweet chestnut.
In Latin: Aesculus hippocastanum
A very handsome tree, with smooth grey bark and a leaf shaped like a child's drawing of one, edged with silky hairs. It can live for up to 200 years. In autumn, beech woods are carpeted with rough-textured beech nut cases which open like a four-petalled flower to reveal the irregular-shaped brown glossy nut.
In Latin: Fagus sylvatica
One of the easiest to identify as it has white bark, which develops dark cracks, and it dangles with catkins in spring. Birch is believed to protect against evil spirits and the evil eye, which is probably why it was used as an instrument of punishment. Not the tallest of trees, they grow to around 20 metres. The leaves are triangular with a jagged edge. It's the national tree of Finland.
In Latin: Betula pendula
Not just for Christmas, the holly is another tree that most of us can recognise, with glossy dark green or yellow-splotched prickly leaves and red berries in winter. It's Britain's most common evergreen tree. It is, of course, used to decorate our homes at Christmas, a custom which dates from pre-Christian times when people brought in green branches in the dark months as a sign of life.
In Latin: Ilex aquifolium
Also known as mountain ash, with frond-like leaves, frothy white flowers in spring and orange-red edible berries in autumn. Its bark is greyish with dark horizontal markings. It reaches a height of up to 15 metres and can grow at a higher altitude than most trees.
In Latin: Sorbus acuparia
Commonly planted in towns and cities in the 17th century, this tree has flimsy heart-shaped leaves. It reaches a height of up to 40 metres. Traditionally used for making hop poles and morris dancers' sticks. Its blossom is clustered, fuzzy and pale lemon, and can be used to make tea, said to be calming. It also leaves a sticky residue on any cars parked beneath its branches.
In Latin: Tilia europaea
Not always found ‘weeping' into waterways, although it does prefer wetter habits by ponds and waterways. Reaching a height of 25 metres, the willow has long, narrow leaves. Relentlessly vigorous, if you stick a twig in the ground it will continue growing.
In Latin: Salix alba
A handsome evergreen, with needles that grow in pairs bunched together on the branches. On a young tree, which will eventually reach up to 36 metres in height, the bark has orangish scales, and becomes deeply grooved as it grows. Its pointy pine cones make good kindling, and its wood is widely used in construction as it's strong. Turpentine is made from its resin.
In Latin: Pinus sylvestris
This ancient tree - some are believed to be thousands of years old - bears dark green needle-like leaves, and red berries with poisonous seeds. Believed to have mythical properties by the Druids, and often found in churchyards as they're often sites that are historically holy. As they grow - to a maximum of 20 metres - they become more gnarled.
In Latin: Taxus baccata