Tree facts

Facts and figures about record or superlative trees abound. Here is a selection.

Did you know? :

  • The largest individual tree in the world is the Giant Redwood called the "General Sherman", which has a height of about 275 ft. a girth of 25 ft and a volume of 52,500 cubic feet.
  • The world's tallest tree is a Coast Redwood in California at 360ft.
  • The world's oldest trees are Bristlecone pines in the USA, with confirmed ages up to 4600 years.
  • Tree rings can provide precise information about environmental events including volcanic eruptions. Dendrochronology is the science of dating trees from their rings.
  • Britain's oldest tree is probably the Fortingall Yew in Tayside, which is believed to be over 3000 years old.
  • Britain is thought to have the largest population of 'ancient' trees in Europe.
  • Yew leaves may help in the treatment of cancer; a drug called Taxol can be produced from them.
  • A fully-grown Oak in the UK grows - and sheds - 250,000 leaves every year and produces around 50,000 acorns in a good year.
  • A healthy mature Birch tree can produce up to 1 million seeds in a good year.
  • A commercial size aspen trunk in Canada is made into about a million matchsticks.
  • Broadleaved trees change colour in the autumn because the green chlorophyll in leaves breaks down and is reabsorbed by the tree, prior to leaf shed.
  • Butterflies have often adapted to living in managed woodland. In parts of England, the Fritillary butterflies have become associated with man-made coppice systems.
  • Tree fruits are designed to be dispersed, so many berries are red, as this is a preferred food colour of birds.
  • The world's rarest trees are endemics of remote islands, some known only from single wild specimens, such as the St Helena Olive. Britain's own endemic trees include Sorbus bristoliensis which only grows naturally in the Avon Gorge.
  • The height above sea-level at which trees cannot grow is called the treeline. This changes with latitude and in the Alps is approximately 7000ft, whilst in North Wales it is 1820ft.
  • It takes approximately 2 tonnes of timber to make 1 tonne of paper. The calorific value of 2 tonnes of timber is the same as 1 tonne of coal.

More: "The Tree Register of the British Isles (TROBI)".
"The Guinness Book of Records".