One of Newtown's much loved and iconic trees has been shortlisted for The Woodland Trust Wales Tree of The Year Competition 2019. Many of us may not know the species, the story, or the importance of this rare old tree and simply recognise and have fond memories of climbing on its lower branches as a child or picnicking underneath its lofty branches during hot, hazy summer days.
To some of us it is just a beautiful old tree and part of our town and landscape but this tree truly has a story of survival and is definitely more than just a tree.
The Black Poplar is one of Britain’s rarest and most endangered native species, so to have one growing in the heart of the town is a story of survival on its own, but our Black Poplar has had more than fungal disease, leaf rusts and poplar scab to contend with.
The story of survival starts in the 1960’s, the tree then stood majestically on the Llanllwchaiarn side of the river. Due to the great floods of 1960 and 1964, a large flood prevention scheme was needed. As a result, the river was diverted and moved and the tree found a new home on the Newtown side of the river. Amazingly the tree survived all the work and continued to thrive!
The Poplar’s existence was then threatened in 1990 when it survived plans to be chopped down to make way for an extension of the car park. Thankfully special conditions were put into place to protect it and no harm came to the tree again.
As this great, old tree has aged and watched over the town, it has needed extensive surgery as the trunk had decayed and the top of the tree was sadly removed, meaning it will never reach its once great heights, but, it is still standing and still surviving.
Not only is its story one to be proud of and not forgotten, it is also of huge value to our wildlife, providing food plant for caterpillars and moths, and its catkins supplying an early source of pollen and nectar for bees and other insects.
So, let’s honour this great tree and great story and vote for it to become The Woodland Trust Wales Tree of The Year 2019.