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Historic copse to mark Queen's Jubilee 22.03.12

Britain's rarest native tree is to be planted in Sutton to celebrate the Queen's diamond jubilee.

Only 8,000 black poplars remain in Britain, making the trees rarer than the blue whale. The trees are either male or female, and with only 400 females left the species will struggle to reproduce naturally.

Each of London's 32 boroughs has been presented with a tree to commemorate the Queen's 60-year reign. Mayor Gerry Jerome collected Sutton's poplar from Sir David Attenborough and Lord Lieutenant for Greater London, Sir David Brewer, at a special ceremony held in Holland Park last month.

Now, to mark the occasion in style and to allow the trees to reproduce, Sutton Council's tree experts and the Friends of Beddington Park are planning to plant a copse of 30 black poplars plus hazel, birch, hawthorn and cherry trees in Beddington Park, along the banks of the River Wandle.

Cllr Graham Tope, Executive Member for Community Safety, Leisure and Libraries on Sutton Council, said: "The black poplar has been part of Britain's landscape for centuries, so I'm delighted that a copse of these now-rare trees is going to be planted in Sutton. Every London borough has been given a black poplar to help them mark the queen's jubilee, but we've decided to do something a bit different and create a whole copse of trees. Black poplars prefer a damp location and all trees grow better as a group, so this will allow the copse  grow into a real local landmark in years to come."

The black poplar was an integral part of British industry until 1850, when replanting of the trees stopped as new faster and straighter growing hybrid poplars became more popular. Planted for its durable timber and fire-proof wood, the tree was used for floorboards, ships' decks, carts, rifle stocks amongst other things. The timber has been found built into Henry VIII's favourite warship, the Mary Rose, and in the rifle butts of weapons used in World War One.

Last updated: Wednesday, 11 April 2012

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