Nature Diary: Look up, for a Scot’s Pine

Ireland’s tallest native evergreen was growing here 7,000 years ago

Arboreal landmark near Delgany. Scots Pine planted in the mid nineteenth century.

Arboreal landmark near Delgany. Scots Pine planted in the mid nineteenth century.

 

Evergreen trees get a lot of bad press in Ireland as they are often grown as monoculture plantations on sloped sites in some of the most beautiful parts of our countryside. Their dark canopy of branches also prevent an understorey of smaller trees and wildlife from living in their midst. 

In spite of this, most of us choose to bring exotic conifers such as Noble and Nordmann Firs indoors to decorate at Christmas time.  And, since these North American trees grow well here, Irish Christmas tree growers are happy to accommodate our exotic tastes. 

However next time you are walking in a coniferous forest, cast your eyes upwards to enjoy Ireland’s tallest native evergreen – the Scot’s Pine.  (Yew trees which are mainly found in graveyards are the only other native conifers).

Pine stumps and pollen found in bogs indicate that Scot’s Pine was growing here 7,000 years ago. Standing tall above most of the other evergreens, Scot’s Pine also supports more biodiversity as its canopy varies throughout the year. Red squirrels also prefer its seeds over any others.  

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