The signature species are an important part of what gives Westonbirt Arboretum its unique character.
They are trees that, over time or by selection, have come to perform a particular role in Westonbirt’s landscape, owing to their size, location or number within the collection.
The signature species include both native and exotics, with a range of different forms and sizes.
Incense cedars (Calocedrus decurrens) are one of the most striking of exotics. Native to Oregon and California, they have been predominantly planted in groups. Examples can be seen just off Waste Drive and along Palmer Ride in Silk Wood. The group on Holford Ride is regarded as one of the finest groups in Britain.
Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica) flank both sides of these fine Holford Ride incense cedars. They provide year round interest with attractive, flaking bark, whilst their foliage exhibits some of the best autumn colour. Examples can be seen throughout the arboretum, with some of the finest in Colour Circle.
Japanese maples (Acer japonicum ‘Vitifolium’ and A. palmatum) are a big draw in the autumn. Numerous forms are found almost wherever you look, from the mature examples in Acer Glade to the National Japanese Maple Collection in Silk Wood.
Tulip trees (Liriodendron tulipifera) have unique shaped leaves that turn yellow in autumn. Forming part of Jackson Avenue, they were a later addition to the other plantings here. A number have been planted in other areas in recent years.
Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) is another favourite. It is one of the largest growing species at Westonbirt. It is a member of the pine family and comes from the west coast of North America, which so many large conifers call home.
Common beech (Fagus sylvatica) can be seen in a variety of colours and forms and is at its most majestic in the large trees on the Downs. There is some concern that this species may struggle in the projected climate but we continue to plant it, as well as other members of this genus which may become increasingly important trees in our future woodland landscape.
Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) provides contrast and variety in the landscape with its ‘cloud-like’ crown. Most are found in Silk Wood at the bottom of the valley as you walk down Waste Drive. Its bright orange fruit is a feature from September onwards, becoming more conspicuous as its leaves drop.
Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) is one of three native conifers. Savill Glade has some fantastic examples which are some of the oldest trees in the Old Arboretum. Scots pine is also planted in groups at the corner of Pool Avenue and Holford Ride with dogwoods (Cornus alba) beneath to great effect.
Signature species tree list
Acer japonicum ‘Vitifolium’
Pinus nigra susp. pallasiana
Pinus x holfordiana
Plants used regularly for
structure and shelter:
Tilia x europaea