Saturday, 25 April 2015

Day 173 - Tree-Mendous Champion Cherry Tree :-D

The Studley Cherry
(Prunus avium)
Hi all today's Day 173 and today I have been up at Ripon looking for Nature. If you live around there you will know that Fountains Abbey is only about 3 miles away from the centre of Ripon. We mainly walked on a riverside walk we know of but just before we went back home we thought of something at Fountains Abbey that would be good to do a post on.

There are a number of Champion Trees (I'll explain below) in the Studley Royal area of Fountains and one of them isn't too far away from the car park. As it's Spring we knew that it would be in bloom and would be beautiful to look at, which it was. The only thing that didn't make it look as nice as it could be, was the weather. If you live in North Yorkshire you'll know that today started lovely but ended up this afternoon a pretty grey day, still, this didn't keep this little nature fanatic back and me and my Dad were out taking photos like billy-o.

From the pictures and the title you'll know that I am talking about the Champion Cherry Tree (Prunus avium),

You can see how big it is with me in the pic :-)
You might not know what a champion tree is, well, I'm here to explain. To qualify to be a champion tree it has to either be the tallest or to have the largest trunk circumference (girth) of its species. The Cherry Tree we've got here doesn't look like the tallest or the widest but, for its type, it is the widest. It's girth at chest height was measured as 5.8m. The tallest Cherry Tree is in Leicestershire at Belvoir Castle and is 32m tall. These Champion trees tend to be ancient trees and Britain has some great ancient trees.

Its lovely blossom
As you can see from the photo's the Cherry is a pretty gnarly thing and only has one main branch left. This is because it lost a lot of its crown in a storm in 2008. It's pretty spectacular now so it must have been amazing before the storm!

So a little bit about cherries:
From the otherside - really gnarly!

  • It is thought that Cherries arrived in Europe from the forests of central Asia.
  • Cherries have been found to be part of the diet of Europeans since bronze age times (around 2000BC)
  • They were first cultivated in Asia around 800BC
  • In Japan people celebrate the arrival of cherry blossom as the beginning of spring.
  • Cherry blossom has had a special significance in Japan for centuries and have been grown for their beautiful blooms since 794AD in the grounds of the nobility in Kyoto.
  • Cherries don't live as long as some species so an ancient cherry tree is one that is over 100 years old

Now this is a big oak tree - there is a small dude at the bottom!
There is another champion tree that I saw at Studley, just behind the Cherry. This was the Champion Oak they have got there. I don't know why it is a champion tree but it is quite large as you can see from the picture so it's probably the girth. It isn't mentioned in the UK lists so it might just be a Yorkshire champion but that's still quite an achievement. The National Trust say this tree is a pre 18th century Oak so it must date from the 1600's - wow!

A bit closer up - there's a little hole
and you can see into the hollow trunk
These aren't the oldest trees I've seen though, I have seen possibly Britain's oldest tree, the Fortingall Yew. I've linked my post to this fascinating tree.

Here's a few links including some walks you can do around the country to see some ancient trees.

Hope you enjoyed,



  1. I can see the tree but I can't see you in th.... oh there you are, dude. Great blog, Zach. I've been reading about the cherry trees in Washington D C which were a gift from Japan. The USA reciprocated with a collection of dogwood trees. Now wouldn't it be a wonderful world if, instead of countries selling weapons to one another, they gave each other trees instead?

    1. That'd be so great Roy - could you stand for Prime Minister? I've seen an article somewhere about the cherry tress in america, didn't know about the dogwoods.

  2. Brilliant post and some great photos - I love those first few blossoms appearing on the branches too! - Tasha

    1. Thanks Tasha. It's a great tree, and Studley and Fountains is a great place - no wonder it has World Heritage Status