How to choose native trees

We believe that the best species to plant are the ones which occur naturally in the UK and therefore suit our climatic conditions. It has long been recognised that native trees and shrubs are the most valuable because they support a much greater variety of wildlife than imported species and they are more likely to survive and flourish than most introduced species.

When planting trees, it is vital to consider the following in order to ascertain the most suitable species for your needs;

  • Location
  • Available space
  • Soil type
  • Growth rates
  • Usage

We have created an easy to use chart that breaks down our range of native trees that are grown in Britain according to their suitability against the key criteria listed above.


Common name Latin name Size* Growth+ Suits soil type Uses
Apple, Crab Malus sylvestris S M Calcareous loams & clays Mixes well. Useful for woodland edge
Aspen Populus tremula M R Damp, heavy clays Good for wetter areas but not waterlogged, stagnant soils
Beech Fagus sylvatica L S Dry, well drained calcareous soils Good for underplanting, very shade tolerant
Birch, Downy Betula pubescens M R Dry, acid sites (generally tolerant) More northerly locations
Birch, Silver Betula pendula M R Dry, acid sites Does best in groups. Regenerates freely
Cherry, Bird Prunus padus S M Neutral to acid, well drained loams Suitable for woodland edges
Cherry, Wild Prunus avium S M Well drained, clay soils Mixes well in woodlands. Useful for edge of woodland
Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna S M Well drained, calcareous soils Good for underplanting and hedges. Can be laid
Holly Ilex aquifolium M S Well drained neutral to acid soils Mixes well in woodland
Hornbeam Carpinus betulus M M Heavy, neutral to acid soils Excellent as coppice understorey. Good fuelwood
Lime, Large-leaved Tilia platyphyllos L M Light, fertile soils Suitable for planting besides roads
Lime, Small-leaved Tilia cordata L M Light, fertile soils Grows well with ash. Locally  common in ancient woodland
Maple, Field Acer campestre M M Calcareous loams & clays Hardy, common in  hedgerows. Forms tall hedge
Oak, Pedunculate Quercus robur L S Well drained calcareous loams & clays Very important for wildlife. Plant wherever possible
Oak, Sessile Quercus petraea L S Well drained acid soils Very important for wildlife. Plant wherever possible
Poplar, Black Populus nigra var betulifolia L R Rich, moist, neutral loams Good for wetter areas but not waterlogged or stagnant soils
Poplar, Grey Populus x canescens L R Rich, moist, neutral loams Hybrid between aspen & white poplar
Rowan Sorbus aucuparia S R Dry, light or acid soils Frost hardy, stands exposure
Whitebeam Sorbus aira M M Calcareous soils Useful ornamental or nurse tree
Willow, Crack Salix fragilis M R Moist alluvial soils Plant away from buildings because of large root system
Willow, White Salix alba M R Moist alluvial soils Plant beside streams or ponds
Yew Taxus baccata M S Well drained, calcareous soils Poisonous to stock -traditional in churchyards/historic gardens

* Size – S-small, M-medium, L-large  +Growth Rate – S-slow, M-moderate, R-rapid

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