Tree of the Day – Willow
Saturday 23rd November sees the start of National Tree Week (23rd November – 1st December) and is the UK’s largest annual tree celebration, marking the start of the winter tree planting season.
To celebrate trees we are posting the ‘Tree of the Day’ with details of the trees you are likely to see if you are out and about in Greater Manchester.
The names Withington, Wythenshawe, Salford and Sale have something in common in addition to being in Greater Manchester. They all originate from Old English words for willow trees, which centuries ago would have been the main features of the low-lying marshland landscape with brooks and rivers flowing through it. There are 18 species of willow in the UK, but most of these are shrubs and bushes rather than trees. Of the shrub willows, the osier is the species whose twigs (called withies, as in Withington and Wythenshawe) are used to make baskets.
Some of the smaller tree willows are known as sallows (hence the names Salford and Sale). Their leaves are small and oblong instead of long and thin, and, because their catkins appear early in the spring, they are crucial species for pollinating insects. In a 2012 survey, the grey sallow was found to produce more nectar per unit area of land than any other plant, with the sole exception of the marsh thistle. Two willows grow to form tall trees: the crack willow (pictured) and the white willow, which is the species whose wood is used to make cricket bats.
Trees play an incredible role in combating climate chaos by removing planet-wrecking emissions from the air around us. Despite their importance, just 13% of the UK’s total land area has tree cover (compared to an EU average of 35%).
Friends of the Earth has launched a #MoreTreesPlease campaign to double tree cover in the UK. We believe one of the best solutions to protect our environment and achieve net zero emissions (removing as many emissions as we produce) is to double UK forest by 2045, but government targets currently fall well short.
Manchester Friends of the Earth November newsletter is all about trees!
Wherever you live, trees have a wide range of benefits, which you can learn more about inside this newsletter. In our city centres, trees help absorb air pollutants and cool the air in heatwaves. In our suburbs, trees enhance the value of open spaces for exercise and recreation, improving our physical and mental health. In our countryside, trees retain moisture in the soil and thus reduce the risk of grass fires in droughts and floods after heavy rain. These are all important reasons for planting more trees here in Greater Manchester.