10 Tree Facts

Trees are beautiful, soften and shape the landscape, add colour to our world, evoke memories, help to gauge the seasons and mark history, soak up carbon dioxide, give out oxygen, provide timber, reduce flooding, create homes for wildlife, help mitigate the effects of climate change, inspire writers and artists, and provide forests through which to roam and explore.

1. When you walk amongst trees you breathe in healthy particles

Called phytoncides - or wood essential oils - they actually help the body to relax. The Japanese consciously use this during 'forest bathing' or 'Shinrinyoku' and find that walking through forests decreases anxiety, depression, anger, confusion and fatigue.

2. A 400-year-old oak has 700,000 leaves

These leaves pump up to 70 litres of water at its midday maximum - equivalent to nearly 60,000 litres per season. The tree also yields 230kg of timber and releases 234,000 litres of oxygen - enough for one person to breathe all year.

3. The oldest tree in Cumbria is the Borrowdale Yew

It is about 1,500 years old. Although it lost a major branch in 2005, it is still thriving.

4. Ash is the most common tree in Cumbria outside woodlands

Most ash were pollarded or cut above grazing height for centuries. In Cumbria pollarding was commercially practiced until the late 1960’s - well within living memory. Today they are pollarded to retain a classic feature of the Cumbrian landscapes.

5. The fattest crab apple is at Thornthwaite Hall

In 2009 its diameter was 239 cm and it is sure to have grown fatter still.

6. Hawthorn berries are a magnet for waxwings in winter

The berries also benefit people. They are used in food syrups, gels and as a herbal remedy to combat heart disease, angina, diarrhoea, dysentery and kidney inflammation.

7. It can take 250 years for a lichen to establish itself on a tree 

Pinhead lichens are pinhead- shaped but much smaller. They are fussy about their living accommodation; needing a sheltered spot on old timber within a particular range of acidity.

8. Trees shrink as they become old

As trees age they become shorter and squatter. It’s a great survival strategy as it enables them to combat strong winds.

9. Trees can help prevent city flooding

Trees can alleviate the effects of flooding because they soak up heavy rainfall which can offset run-off from buildings and tarmacked areas. The Chinese say: "The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago, the next best time is now."

10. Mycorrhizal fungi associated with tree roots exert pressure equal to that of a car tyre

The fungi releases the phosphates locked in rock and makes it available to the tree. The roots of a mature tree are about 5 miles in length when put end to end, but its mycorrhizal fungi stretch around the world.