Trees of Britain and Ireland

Edward Milner

A treasure-trove of tree facts and photographs, with portraits of all the major native species, their history and ecology, and our relationship with them.

978 0 565 09295 5
October 2011
253 x 216 mm / 10 x 8½ in
224 pp
Over 200 colour photographs
Natural History Museum


Trees of Britain and Ireland is a celebration of the trees of these islands, covering every aspect of their natural history.

Published in association with The Tree Council, it contains all the essential facts about native trees, including where different trees grow naturally, the insects, fungi and animals that are associated with them, the traditional beliefs connected to them, how they are managed and what products are obtained from them.

The book includes reference lists for each tree, and tables of information about the characteristics,associated species, diseases and altitude records.

Edward Milner also brings together recent research on managing trees by scientists and historians to help build an up-to-date account of what we know and understand about Britain and Ireland’s native trees. 

All those interested and concerned about trees will treasure this beautiful book, which is illustrated in full colour throughout.

See inside

Look inside this book to get an idea of its content.

Trees of Britain and Ireland pages

The book includes illustrated portraits of all the major native species.

Trees of Britain and Ireland pages

Discover every aspect of native trees including their history, biology and distribution.

Trees of Britain and Ireland pages

Pages from Trees of Britain and Ireland.

Trees of Britain and Ireland pages

Pages from Trees of Britain and Ireland.

Trees of Britain and Ireland pages

Pages from Trees of Britain and Ireland.

Trees of Britain and Ireland pages

Pages from Trees of Britain and Ireland.

Trees of Britain and Ireland pages

Pages from Trees of Britain and Ireland.

Q & A

In this exclusive Q&A author Edward Milner reveals what inspired him to write the book, what the benefits of native trees are, and how we can all help to conserve them.

What got you interested in native trees?

Native trees have a history, they are part of the natural ecosystem, they have been used for centuries, and several are rather neglected nowadays. For all these reasons I thought it was time to rebalance a bit!

What exactly is a native tree?

A native tree is not a simple term to define. Basically it refers to trees that have been here for a very long time. Most native trees arrived naturally when the ice melted during the last glacial period; their fruits and seeds were spread by the wind or by animals and birds. But some trees appear to have been brought here by people.

How many native tree species are there in Britain and Ireland?

There are about 65 or so different native trees, some of which are not clearly separate species. Some new ones are being discovered, too, so it’s difficult to give a precise number.

What affects the types of trees that are growing?

Each different sort of native tree has a range of ecological requirements, conditions and situations where it thrives or appears to grow best, although many trees can survive in a range of different habitats. On damp ground, for example, trees like alder that can stand waterlogging are at an advantage. The distribution of some trees has also been influenced by human activity, such as planting trees, draining marshland or clearing natural woodland.

What are the benefits of native trees?

Native trees are usually better adapted to local conditions than introduced trees and provide a better habitat for many creatures such as birds, wasps, large moths and butterflies. They also have cultural history associated with them, from marking boundaries and guarding holy wells, to being at the centre of ancient celebrations and beliefs.

How can we help to conserve our trees?

Conserving native trees isn’t just about planting trees. We should try to protect the native trees we already have, and allow them to spread naturally. There is a tendency to treat native trees as expendable items standing in the way of development. Much effort goes into planting trees and for this native trees should be preferred, but it is important to ensure that wherever possible seed sources should be local.


A professional ecologist, Edward Milner has over 40 years experience writing and making films about the natural world and environmental issues. At the BBC he produced films for the acclaimed Natural History Unit and the Open University. Since establishing ACACIA Productions in 1985 he has made films as an independent producer. 

He is a full member of the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management, and the Environmental Research Group at University of East London. He is the patron of the Tree Trust for Haringey and was a patron of the Soil Association’s Responsible Forestry Programme.

About The Tree Council

The Tree Council is the UK’s lead charity for trees, promoting their importance in a changing environment. It runs National Tree Week and encourages action for trees.

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