Ireland is world-famous for its wild and natural landscape, so let’s take a look at the top ten native Irish trees that call this island home.
Trees were of enormous importance in ancient Ireland, for practical reasons and for spiritual reasons. Each tree was used to make different things, such as for shields to protect yourself and in construction. There are many native Irish trees.
The oak tree was considered to be the king of the forest, and at one point, Ireland’s landscape flourished with all types of trees, including many oaks.
The trees meant so much to natives in pre-Christian times that they even had laws specifically for trees, meaning if you cut down certain trees, you would be fined.
Nowadays, Ireland is one of the tallest wooded areas in Europe. Fortunately, there are various reforestation projects in action, which is a stellar step in the right direction for our nature.
When it comes to Ireland’s native trees, there are many, so let’s take a look at the top ten native Irish trees.
10. Hawthorn – it has a sweet-smelling May blossom
Hawthorn, like many other trees, can grow in woodlands, so long as it has enough light. It produces a berry that is among one of the best tasting berries for birds.
Traditionally, it was planted in hedges throughout the country.
9. Juniper – one of our few native evergreens
This shrub is usually found in rocky areas, particularly around Donegal and The Burren, County Clare.
The berries, as you may have guessed have been used in modern times to flavour gin, which is a popular drink in Ireland.
8. Scots pine – one of the best native Irish trees
This coniferous tree dates back to over 7000 years ago, and they have found tree stumps below bogs which prove this.
Nowadays, the Scots pine is being reintroduced, having been in decline since the change in weather and the human way of life impacted them.
7. Yew – a rare wood left in Ireland
There is only one native yew wood left in the country, located in Muckross, Co. Kerry. It is an excellent tree for wildlife, especially nesting birds.
However, the leaves and seeds are poisonous to most livestock. It is characterized as a dramatic tree because it bares dark foliage and red berries.
6. Willow – a tree with several native varieties
The most common of these species are the goat willow, rusty willow, and grey willow, all of which are home to various insects, which provides an excellent food source for birds during the summer.
They can be found all around Ireland and are one of the top tree species in Ireland.
5. Birch – the ideal garden tree
There are two types that we have in Ireland, downy birch and silver birch. It was once used to make walkways among the boglands but now is mainly used to make plywood.
4. Wych elm – the only native elm in Ireland
This tree can be found on a vast scale, from Ireland to Russia and north to the Arctic Circle.
In ancient Ireland, the Celts believed that wych elm protected the dead and helped their souls reach the underworld.
Wych elm is praised for its beauty and is commonly used in producing art.
3. Ash – a traditional woodland species
The most common ash woods are in The Burren in County Clare. It is one of the last trees to come into leaf and onset of the first to lose its leaves in Autumn.
2. Hazel – a tree with an ancient history
This tree has many uses, and we all know it for producing the delicious hazelnuts, which are associated with the earliest humans in Ireland.
They also used hazel to construct their huts, as it was seen to be strong and very flexible.
1. Oak – the mighty oak of the forest
The traditional Irish oak is sessile oak, and it is quite rare due to too much harvesting over the years. This magnificent tree only grows in a few places in Ireland.
It is an essential habitat for many insects, birds, and mammals. In Irish culture, it is also a Celtic symbol for strength.
Some trees mentioned, such as hazel and oak, became native to Ireland when their seeds were carried here by birds and animals, during a time when we were still connected to mainland Europe.
Other trees, such as willow and birch, arrived here when the wind carried their seeds through the air.
Ireland once looked different, having been covered in lush woodland. Still, with the many ongoing reforestation projects, it may start to regain its ‘tree-ditions’.
Which is your favourite of these native Irish trees?