THE black poplar is a large tree of floodplains, flooded gravel pits and ditches, particularly in England.

Despite being an important part of our culture for centuries, it has declined massively.

According to the Forestry Commission, black poplar is the most endangered native timber tree in Britain.

Recently, a dedicated volunteer group from the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust visited Parky Meadow to install some sturdy, stock-proof tree guards. These were to protect the black poplar truncheons, provided by Tony Norman, cut from an ancient black poplar male at Eardisley.

The Trust is pleased to report that all four truncheons are now producing buds, signalling that they have started to take root there.

Some of the side branches will be trimmed over time, to encourage the tree to grow with a single trunk.

These trees are very important for wildlife. Black poplar is the food plant for the caterpillars of many moths, including the hornet, wood leopard, poplar hawk and figure of eight. The catkins provide an early source of pollen and nectar for bees and other insects, and the seeds are eaten by birds.

The temporary wire guards previously put in when the trees were planted have kept rabbits and hares from nibbling on the bark. However, these are not stock-proof in the medium term. The new cages have been installed sturdily enough to resist sheep grazing until such time as the trees are large enough to grow without protection.

Fingers crossed for the future of these wonderful native trees.

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