Newton’s apple tree competes for “England’s first tree of the year”

A tree where Robin Hood hid and Isaac Newton’s apple tree are among candidates picked by the Woodland Trust for England’s first tree of the year, to be voted by the public, The Guardian reports.

A yew where Magna Carta is thought to have been signed, the apple tree that inspired Newton’s theory of gravity and an 800-year oak believed to have sheltered Robin Hood are among the candidates for England’s first ‘tree of the year’.

Experts at the Woodland Trust and other nature groups have drawn up a shortlist of 10 trees that is open to a public vote to declare a winner based on their cultural and ecological value – and perhaps simply which one is the most-loved.

On the list is the Kett’s Oak in Norfolk, where farmer Robert Kett’s men met over five hundred years ago to lead the Norfolk Rebellion of peasants against robber barons, which was quashed and saw him executed at Norwich castle.

Other history-laden trees in the running include the Ankerwycke Yew at Runnymede where King John sealed the Magna Carta, and the Flower of Kent apple tree at Woolsthorpe Manor, Lincolnshire, that Isaac Newton sat under.

They face the tree with the widest span in the whole of the UK – the Shugborough Yew in Staffordshire – and the Allerton tree in Liverpool, which would have been the last sight of England for many migrants leaving the docks for America.

Jill Butler, ancient tree specialist at the Woodland Trust, said: “Some of them really just jump out at you, you know them very well – the Ankerwycke yew is an absolutely astounding tree. The Major oak, and Old Knobbley, these are very, very well known and well-loved. Old Knobbley had the greatest number of nominations so it’s obviously a very popular tree in Essex.

“There are some that one would’ve expected, but some that are obviously well-loved in their villages such as the Whiteleaved oak and the Ickwell oak.”

The competition is designed to raise awareness of England’s unique trees and the history attached to them, and the trust is also campaigning to have a national register set up to help list and protect them.

“We are one of the richest countries in northern Europe for these characterful, important and ancient trees, so it’s about raising awareness that these are there in the landscape, don’t overlook them,” said Butler, who admitted to hoping the Ankerwycke yew wins.

Voting closes on 4 November.

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