Can you help check on one of Suffolk’s rarest native tree species?

Black Poplar at Butley PIC: Lesley Walduck

Black Poplar at Butley PIC: Lesley Walduck - Credit: Archant

Volunteers are being sought to keep tabs on one of Suffolk’s rarest native trees.

Black poplars are a character species for the county but are becoming increasingly scarce in the region.

At the last count in 2006 there were believed to be around 430 mature trees left in Suffolk - many of an old age.

The county recorder for black poplars, Sue Hooton, is keen to hear from anyone who can spare some time to check the condition of black poplars in their area, so she can update her records. She believes some may have been blown down in the recent winter storms.

“I need to know if the veteran trees across the county are still alive and standing as many have not been checked for over a decade,” she said.


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“The focus for 2018 is to bring the county register up to date to avoid the sites being lost from the active Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service dataset.”

According to the 2006 biodiversity action plan on Suffolk black poplars, almost half of the 80 rarer female black poplars known to exist in Suffolk can be found in locations within a triangle between Saxmundham, Framlingham and Wickham Market while the males trees are more evenly distributed across the county.

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Black poplar was formerly a component of floodplain woodland but now occurs as isolated specimens in wet meadows, along hedgerows, beside farm ponds and near to rivers.

Sue added: “They were planted on farms as a poor man’s oak because you could strike them from cuttings and in a couple generations they would be ready to fell and used to make cheap buildings. They have a characteristic leaning look and are sometimes known as the ‘ballerina poplar’.

“They have always been part of the landscape - particularly in the Dedham Vale where John Constable painted them. They are important for the landscape and biodiversity.”

Anyone who would like to help with the project can e-mail Sue on blackpoplar@sns.org.uk and she will get back to you in due course with details of black poplars in your area.

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