Black Poplar trees planted to safeguard the species' future on the Malvern Hills - The Malvern Observer

Black Poplar trees planted to safeguard the species' future on the Malvern Hills

Malvern Editorial 1st Mar, 2023   0

TREES planted on Castlemorton Common will provide a more secure future for Black Poplars in the area.

The Malvern Hills Trust, the charity which owns and cares for 1,200 hectares of the Malvern Hills and Commons landscape, has planted young trees with small genetic differences. The species have been taken from the local population to provide better resistance against the threat of disease.

The Black Poplar is Britain’s most endangered native timber tree.  The Woodland Trust estimates around 7,000 wild Black Poplars now grow in Britain, and only 600 of those are female.

Andy Pearce, the trust’s conservation officer, said ” The Black Poplar is dioecious which means that the trees are either male or female and for reproduction to occur, both sexes of trees need to be present in close proximity.

“Due to the low number of female trees in the landscape the species has declined as there are very few young trees to form the next generation.”

In previous years, cuttings of local trees have been taken and propagated to provide new trees for the future.

Andy added “The risk of taking cuttings from local trees is all the trees are clones of each other and therefore are all at risk should they become infected with a disease.

“We are seeing the devastating impacts of tree diseases in our ash trees and so want to give these special trees a fighting chance.”

The saplings planted this winter have been grown from cuttings from Black Poplars in Pembridge, Herefordshire which have a different genetic make-up and add some genetic diversity to the local population.

These rare trees can be found dotted across the Malvern Hills landscape with a collection on Castlemorton Common and individuals at Poolbrook Road.  Black Poplar trees can live for over 200 years and often have thick, gnarly trunks.

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