Friday 1 March 2013

A rarer-tree… The native Black Poplar

We have a new species at Gatwick! We know this because we put it there... Last Wednesday under the supervision of expert plant carer Nikki Coultrip from JS Agriculture, we planted our 10 rare native Black Poplar saplings along the River Mole floodplain.

The full scientific name is Populus nigra subsps betulifolia. This tree is native to the UK and is one of the rarest in existence; only a few thousand mature specimens remain in Britain and 33 of these exist in Sussex.

Buds still in their dormancy

We have followed the planting guidelines of Sussex Otters and Rivers Project and the next few years we will be keeping a close eye on these little guys, strimming the grass around their tree guards and making sure they are not swamped by surrounding vegetation.

Each got a pep talk: Reach for the skies, don't let those rabbits get to you,
keep your head above the flood waters

Centuries ago the British black poplar would have occurred naturally in floodplain woodlands. Unfortunately, naturally functioning floodplain woodlands are almost an extinct habitat, also this tree requires very specific conditions to reproduce and so right now only survives through plantings and cuttings.

The Sussex Black Poplar Working Group was established in 1998 and to date have planted over 4000 trees in Sussex river valleys. Every year along with Sussex Otters and Rivers Project, they help to hand out young black poplar trees to landowners who can plant them in their native habitat. You can find more info about the SORP at

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