Malnus sylvestris (Crab Apple)
Other Names: European Apple, Wild Crab
Description: Small rounded tree with oval leaves. In late spring they show clusters of pink-tinged white flowers, followed by yellowy-green or red-flushed fruits.
Uses: Crab Apple trees are usually planted in commercial orchards, as the fruit can be roasted and served with meat or added to punches/ales. It's used to make crab apple jelly, and as a natural source to set jams. The pinkish wood's texture is even and makes good quality timber, making it good for carving and turning. Did you know - in Ireland, a yellow dye was found in the bark to colour wool!
Conservation Value: The leaves provide food for catepillars of many moths (e.g. eyed hawk-moth). The flowers provide an important food source for pollinators in the spring time. The fruit that shows later on in the year is eaten by birds (e.g. thrushes, crows). Mammals (e.g. mice, foxes, badgers, voles) also eat the fruit.
Preferred Locations: Heavy, well-drained, moist soil and scrub areas throughout Europe.
Size: 10m in height
Time to reach full height: 10 to 20 years
Lifespan: Between 30-70 years
Populus tremula (Aspen)
Other Names: Quaking Aspen, Common Aspen, European Aspen
Description: Round, blunt-teethed leaves that shimmer. Older trees are often covered with lichens, giving the trunk a black appearance. The bark is usually grey and pitted with diamond-shaped pores (lenticels). The upper branches are sometimes bent horizontally, and its twigs are dark brown, slender and shiny.
Uses: Aspen is soft, white and lightweight, but strong, so it's used for making oars, paddles, wagon bottoms, and surgical splints. It's low in flammability, meaning it's a great choice for matches and paper. Its shredded wood is used for stuffing, packing and animal bedding.
Conservation Value: Attracts a wide range of insects, including the aspen hoverfly which feeds on microorganisms in dead aspen wood. The insects are a great food source for ladybirds and birds. Deadwood holes provide nesting sites for birds (e.g. woodpecker). Aspen is also the preferred species for beavers.
Preferred Locations: Cool regions, grow in colonies (particularly in heaths and ancient woodlands), and on well-drained soil near rivers. Most common north-west of Scotland.
Size: Up to 25m in height
Time to reach full height: Around 100 years
Lifespan: between 150-200 years