Oak and birch trees grow well on Abinger Roughs and also native evergreens - Scots pine, holly and yew. We've some impressive sweet chestnuts and also veteran pines, beech and oaks. Hidden amongst these towering specimens are the remains of an old wilderness garden, with rhododendrons, azaleas and laurels.
Our three magnificent oak tree pollards are around 300 years old. They've survived from the times when the Roughs was grazed as wood pasture. Over many years their branches have been cut for building materials and firewood, but we’re now letting them grow old gracefully.
Scots pine trees thrive on the Roughs and we manage the area so that the best specimens grow strongest and tallest. The trees can grow up to 36m high and 1.5m wide around the trunk. Very old pine trees are known as ‘granny pines’. They produce pine cones that hold the tree’s seeds. Birds and squirrels eat the seeds and scatter them over the Roughs.
Important habitat for all
Our ancient trees are very important for nature conservation. The hollow trunks create niche habitats, rich in decaying wood, loose bark, sap and tree humus. They support many species of epiphytes (mosses and lichens), as well as invertebrates and fungi. Bats, owls and woodpeckers nest in their old trunks.
Open glades of grassland form the central core of the Roughs. Bracken has always grown here and used to be gathered and used as bedding for livestock. Today, we try to control it to prevent it taking over the grassland, which supports lots of insects and butterflies. The grass is grazed by rabbits and roe deer.