Six finalists set for tree-mendous battle to become Scottish Tree of the Year

Ding Dong Tree, Prestonpans Primary School, Scottish Tree of the Year 2016

Ding Dong Tree, Prestonpans Primary School, Scottish Tree of the Year 2016

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A bicycle-eating sycamore and a spruce brought as a seed from the Himalayas are among six finalists battling it out to become this year’s Scottish Tree of the Year.

Other contenders include the ancient Birnham oakwood, whose advance, it is foretold, will vanquish Macbeth in Shakespeare’s play and Niel Gow’s Oak, a tree under which Scotland’s famous 18th century fiddler wrote many of his strathspeys and reels.

The Birnam Oak, the last remaining tree from the ancient Birnham oakwood, which has been shortlisted for the "tree of the year". Pic: Niall Benvie/PA Wire

The Birnam Oak, the last remaining tree from the ancient Birnham oakwood, which has been shortlisted for the "tree of the year". Pic: Niall Benvie/PA Wire

Shortlists featuring 28 of the UK’s finest trees have been unveiled by the Woodland Trust, from almost 200 nominations, as it seeks to find a tree of the year for Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Backed by People’s Postcode Lottery, a winner for each country will be selected by a public vote and they will go on to compete in the European tree of the year contest next year.

Scotland’s shortlist includes the Bicycle Tree in the Trossachs. The sycamore self-seeded in the late 1800s, sprouting up through the scrap near a blacksmith’s workshop. It has since devoured a number of items including an anchor and a horse’s bridle.

It gets its name from the bicycle embedded in it, which legend has it was left hanging over a branch by a local man who went off to serve in the First World War, never to return.

Morinda spruce, Hopetoun House, Scottish Tree of the Year 2016

Morinda spruce, Hopetoun House, Scottish Tree of the Year 2016

Also making the cut is the Morinda Spruce, at Hopetoun near Edinburgh, a tree planted in 1824 from a seed collected in the Himalayas, grown into seedlings and grafted on to Norway Spruce roots by the Earl of Hopetoun’s head gardener James Smith.

Last year, an oak tree planted in Glasgow nearly 100 years ago as a tribute to the city’s suffragettes was named winner.

Shortlisted trees in England include a mulberry bush at a prison in Yorkshire which is thought to have been the origin of the nursery rhyme Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush, played by female prisoners with their children.

England’s nominated trees also include rare elms, the famous tree on Hadrian’s Wall which featured in Kevin Costner’s 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves and the dying original Bramley apple tree from which all other Bramley trees come.

Trees making the shortlist in Wales include an 800-year-old oak which has witnessed the rise and fall of Dinefwr Castle, Carmarthenshire, and the Brimmon Oak, which will see a bypass diverted to avoid it thanks to campaigners.

In Northern Ireland, nominated trees include one of the country’s oldest oaks which has witnessed the growth of Belfast, and two beeches wound together in the 18th century by John Wesley to symbolise the connection between the Anglican Church and Methodism

The winning tree in each country will benefit from a “Tree LC” grant of £1,000, and any tree with more than 1,000 votes will get £500, which can be used to arrange a health check, provide education materials or hold a celebratory event.

Beccy Speight, Woodland Trust chief executive, said: “These trees have stood for hundreds, if not thousands, of years and each will have a special place in peoples’ lives. By celebrating them and reminding people of their value we hope to support and influence those who can ensure they continue to thrive for future generations.”

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