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The Scots pine: keeper of the forest

February 26, 2014

Up to now I have never re-blogged anyone else’s work on Dancing Beastie. This wonderful post about the Scots Pine has persuaded me to break that habit. It comes from the online magazine ‘The Hazel Tree’, and puts my own amateur tree observations to shame. If there is anything you would like to know about Scotland’s newly-elected national tree, I know that you will enjoy Jo’s appreciation of it, an extract of which is printed below. After all, we are all tree-huggers here!

The Hazel Tree

Continuing my series on British trees, we’re heading up into the Highlands to stand beneath a beautiful Scots pine…

Scots Pine 77With a range that stretches from western Scotland to eastern Siberia, the Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) is the most widely distributed conifer in the world.   In Britain – and in particular Scotland – there is a strong sense of affection towards this long-lived and majestic tree, which has had much to suffer over the centuries from the spread of human civilisation.

Scots Pine 8

Scots Pine 26Much of our conifer forest consists of Douglas fir, Norway fir and Sitka spruce, but these species are all recent introductions.  The Scots pine is one of only three conifers native to the UK:  the others are yew and juniper.   (It surprised me that the larch, a deciduous conifer native to central Europe, was only introduced to Britain in the 17th century.)

For thousands of years, the Scots…

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. February 26, 2014 7:40 pm

    Oh, these pines are so different from the ones here (tall, thin with side branches not so sturdy and spreading.)
    We see old ones like this occassionally, but the timber industry prefers others.
    Thanks for finding this

    • February 27, 2014 12:19 am

      These characterful old pines survive in upland areas where there has been no timber logging. Conifers grown for commercial forestry – of which there are many acres in Scotland – are very different beasts!

  2. February 26, 2014 8:02 pm

    Thank you again for sharing this, and for your very kind opening comments. Do not be so quick to disparage your ‘amateur tree observations’. Your wonderful descriptions – such as ‘Noticing’, just posted – are full of the kind of imagery that I admire the most.

    • February 27, 2014 12:20 am

      It really is a pleasure to share this sort of knowledge and these wonderful photos. I should be saying, ‘No no, thank YOU!’ 🙂

  3. February 27, 2014 2:55 pm

    Thanks so much for posting this, DB, I’ve read the whole with great interest and enjoyment. They are such majestic trees. There’s been quite an outcry here in Mid-Wales because a landmark Scots pine of considerable age was felled by the terrible storm a fortnight ago. It’s now hoped the tree may regenerate from the remaining roots.

    • March 2, 2014 11:45 pm

      Alas, poor tree. I do hope that it might regenerate.
      It seems innate in us that we feel affection for and attachment to certain trees: humans seem to have kind of instinctive understanding that here are other ‘beings’, life-forms which interact with us in some way. Having said that, there are some people without an ounce of innate understanding in their body: Perth city council recently cut down a landmark 200-year old Scots pine to make way for some astroturf – this in the face of outcry from most of the city, including schoolchildren who had made a memorial bench to two friends under the tree. Sigh.

  4. hmunro permalink
    February 28, 2014 5:56 pm

    I echo Jo’s comment: Do not disparage your own admirable gifts of observation and description, DB. But thank you for sharing this wonderful post with this reader who has never before seen a Scots pine. What a treat … I really must go “meet” one in person!

  5. February 28, 2014 9:06 pm

    Thank you for posting this wonderful observation of the Scots Pine. I’ll be heading off to the forest next week (a plantation forest, but nevertheless, I love every moment of it) and this has got me nicely in the mood.

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