Wanstead trees


Norway Maple (Acer platanoides)

Given that my ‘Patch’ is the most southerly tip of Epping Forest, it feels appropriate that I dedicate some space to the organisms that truly make a forest, well, a forest!

During my first full year on the patch, I conducted a survey of the trees of Bush Wood – you can read how I got on here. I found 33 species of plant that grow as trees* with two further hybrids.

During my second year (2016), I conducted a briefer survey of the whole of the Wanstead Flats (I haven’t yet dared attempt the far tree-richer Wanstead Park). Whilst I make no claim that I have conducted a full and exhaustive survey of all the trees on the Flats, it is, hopefully, a useful starting place on which to build a more precise picture over time.


European Beech (Fagus sylvatica)

I sincerely hope to add to this list over time, just as I hope to add to my lists of birds and butterflies, but the starting position from a few summer days of surveying would suggest that we have at least 43 species of tree. When I finally get around to surveying Wanstead Park, I expect that number to increase significantly.

1 English Oak The most commonly found tree
2 Turkey Oak Present in small numbers across the patch with one or two impressive examples including in SSSI
3 Holm Oak Mostly Saplings with some mature trees. Undoubtedly spreading.
4 Red Oak Planted trees in Copses on Flats
5 Sycamore Common. Naturally occurring at all stages of maturity
6 London Plane Planted as borders and avenues, often shaping woods and sections of the patch
7 Field Maple Grows naturally in pockets. More common than originally thought.
8 Norway Maple Scarce on the Flats, but several specimens in total found at Esso Copse, Brick pit Copse and near Alexandra pond
9 Hawthorn Common everywhwere, sometimes dominant in scrub. Largest specimens found in Brick Pit Copse
10 Midland Hawthorn So far only one specimen found bordering Aldersbrook Road
11 Horse Chestnut Reasonably common and found everywhere
12 Sweet Chestnut A few very large old specimens and then saplings found elsewhere
13 Hornbeam Very common and naturally occurring in densely wooded areas
14 Hazel Only specimen thus far known – in Bush Wood
15 Beech Many large specimens in the copses on the Flats, but otherwise scarce
16 Elder Common and naturally occurring across the patch
17 Ash Relatively common and naturally occurring across the patch
18 Manna Ash Only a few specimens known, in Bush Wood
19 Rowan Relatively uncommon, but many specimens across a few locations
20 Swedish Whitebeam A few specimens, probably planted or introduced
21 Wych Elm A few large specimens and suckers
22 English Elm Mainly present as small suckers
23 Smooth-leaved Elm One specimen known just South East of Bush Wood path near Belgrave Rd
24 Black Poplar A few very large planted specimens
25 Aspen Uncommon, mainly found in Bush Wood
26 Grey Poplar Relatively common hybrid in Bush Wood – heavily suckered
27 White Poplar Less common than its hybrid
28 Silver Birch Common in water-rich soils – especially in SSSI
29 Small-leaved Lime Planted mainly in Bush Wood and on fringes
30 Common Lime Also planted on fringes
31 Cherry Laurel Relatively common introduction
32 Holly Very common and naturally occurring in densely wooded areas
33 Yew A few large specimens but also some saplings
34 Goat Willow Common in water-logged soil
35 Crack Willow Found in a few locations
36 Wild Cherry Relatively common
37 Cherry Plum Several specimens known
38 Orchard Apple Many specimens across patch
39 Wild Crab Many specimens across patch
40 Purple Crab Uncommon
41 Blackthorn Naturally occurring – some large examples
42 False Acacia A few locations – especially central Copse where commonly found
43 Common Laburnum A few specimens known


*Trees are not a taxonomic group in their own right, of course, but it is still useful to have a sense of the plants that grow in a form commonly recognised as trees as part of our wider understanding of the botany on the patch. There is also no commonly agreed definition of a tree, so I have simply decided to choose plants with an elongated and ‘woody’ stem – something that ‘looks like’ a tree to me and would be identified as a tree by most people according to my judgement.