Archive for November, 2016

Plant hunting…we’re back!

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

After just over 3 weeks out in the field in Italy, we are now settling back into our daily routines here at Westonbirt.

The last portion of our trip was spent in the north east of the country, primarily to collect some of the European conifer species that grow in this area. We were working with staff from the Corpo Forestale dello Stato and as in the south, we benefitted from their encyclopedic knowledge of the native flora.

Collecting highlights here included Scots pine, Abies alba and Pinus mugo, all of which are currently important species here in the landscape at Westonbirt, though the vast majority of these are of no known origin. Our collections are significant as these plants will help inform us as to how Italian examples of these species will perform in our climate.

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In total, we made 77 collections, 16 of which were also for the Millenium Seed Bank. Though we didn’t quite manage to collect everything on our target plant list (that’s nature for you!), strong connections were made with our Italian colleagues and we are well placed to explore further collecting options in the future.

For all of us, the experience was one that will remain with us forever. We were treated to incredible hospitality throughout and without our Italian colleagues; none of this would have been possible. To marvel at these plants in their native habitat is of course incredible and to collect seed that will become trees in the collection here at Westonbirt is truly special. We are looking forward to it!!

Dan, Dendrologist


Tree of the month : December 2016

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

What is tree of the month?

Abies fraseri (Fraser fir)


Why is it tree of the month?

An increasingly common sight around this time of year, Fraser fir is widely used as a Christmas tree. It is however included on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants as Endangered, as it’s threatened by an invasive insect in its native range in the Eastern United States.

There it grows with a number of other species that also grow in the Westonbirt collection such as the American mountain ash, Sorbus americana and mountain maple, Acer spicatum.

In U.K cultivation it is generally considered not to be particularly long lived.

Where can I find it?

A small but fine specimen grows close to Holford Ride in Victory Glade and other, younger plants can be found elsewhere in the Old Arboretum. You can locate specimens using the Westonbirt map,


Plant hunting…week two!

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

We’ve just left Naples to head for Arrezo in the north.

From 21st to 25th October we collected in The Pollino National Park which straddles Calabria and Basilicata and covers 193,000 hectares with mountains up to a height of 2,266m and is dramatic.

Collections are now at 60 and one of the most notable is Pino loricato which in Italy only grows in Pollino.   A long hard 10K walk to the top but well worth it.


Seed collecting Seed collecting

We also went to Alessandria del Caretto on the eastern side of the park where six species of maple grow including Lobel’s maple, Norway maple and Montpellier maple but very little seed collected.

It’s fantastic, but the less glamorous side is spending hours in launderettes , DHL offices, and travelling!