Tree of the day – Holly
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.
Of the UK’s five native evergreen trees, the holly is the only species that is both broadleaved and found in all parts of the country. In the Manchester area, for example, only two evergreen trees grow in the wild: the holly and the yew, which has leaves in the form of flat needles and is closely related to conifers.
Unsurprisingly the holly has become closely associated with the Christmas season because of its combination of shiny, dark green leaves with bright red berries. The berries are in fact slightly poisonous to humans, but they are an important source of food for birds (in particular, thrushes) in winter.
Like the willow and poplar mentioned previously, the holly has separate male and female trees, and the berries are only found on females. Trees of both sexes must therefore be close enough to be pollinated by bees. Although holly leaves are usually thought of as being spiny, this is only the case if they are within reach of wild animals – the leaves on higher branches have smooth, wavy sides without spines. In gardens you may also see cultivated varieties of holly that have silver or gold strips round the outside of the leaves.
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.