Last week was very blustery with 70 mph winds. One of my favourite oak trees blew down and I went to say ‘Good-bye’ and pay my respects. I used to pass this tree on my journey to and from the Cider Barn and often stopped and told him my latest news or just to have a quiet visit. I’ll miss him.
I’m not sure how old this tree was, maybe about 300 years. He was almost certainly a veteran. Veteran trees vary in age depending upon their species and location, but may be several hundred years old. Smaller and shorter-lived tree species (such as orchard trees) may begin to develop some veteran features when only a few decades old. Usually, veteran tree organisations use size as a measure, with a >3metre girth at 1.5m above ground being a usual test for a tree to be a veteran.
Veteran trees often have features of particularly high nature conservation value, such as dead limbs, hollows, rot-holes, seepages, woodpecker holes, splits, and epiphytic plants and lichens. Few of these features are found on younger trees, and they provide habitats for very many species of animals and fungi, some of which are rare.