Irish Native Trees & Shrubs

Taken from Anon. (2000 - see Reference section)

You can also view a Quick Reference to Trees

Photo Name Description
Native Irish Alder Alder - Fearnóg
Alnus glutinosa

One of Ireland's most traditional and widely distributed trees, alders may be found in damp areas, beside freshwater loughs and along river banks, where their strong fibrous roots may help to keep the bank in place. Alder woodlands are found in Ross Island, Killarney, Co. Kerry and the Gearagh...

Arbutus Arbutus - Caithne
Arbutus unedo

Arbutus or the strawberry tree is a small evergreen tree, which in Ireland can grow to be a forest tree reaching heights of up to 15 metres. It has an unusual distribution, as it only grows naturally throughout the Mediterranean and certain parts of Ireland. Unlike many of our other native...

Ash – Fuinseóg Ash - Fuinseóg
Fraxinus excelsior

Ash is the commonest tree in Irish hedgerows, and is also a traditional woodland species. It will grow in a range of soils, not acid, and prefers well-drained sites. Ash woods are found in the Burren, Co Clare, and Hanging Rock in South Fermanagh.
The flowers are very dark, almost black,...

Aspen – Crann creathach Aspen - Crann creathach
Populus tremula

The one definitely native poplar is aspen (all other poplars may be assumed to be introduced, although the black poplar is still being argued about). Aspen will grow into a full sized tree. The leaves make a distinctive sound as they rattle gently in the wind, and they have a sweet smell in the...

Birch Wood Birch - Downy - Beith chlúmhach / Silver - Beith gheal
Betula pubescens / Betula pendula

There are two types of birch in Ireland, downy and silver. The most usual is the downy birch, which like silver birch is a delicate tree with fine branches and small leaves. The springtime flowers are catkins which stay on the tree and contain the mature seed by autumn. Birch will grow in poor...

Bird Cherry – Donnroisc Bird Cherry – Donnroisc
Prunus padus

This species is most frequently found in the northwest, for example around Churchill and Lough Gartan, Co. Donegal. It is most easily spotted in the spring around May, when the flowers are out. The creamy-white flowers are borne in rows along flower stalks about 10cm. long, and are quite...

Blackthorn - Draighean Blackthorn - Draighean
Prunus spinosa

Spiny shrub of roadside and hedgerow, blackthorn forms dense scrub cover where it is left untrimmed and ungrazed. It bears dense clusters of small white flowers, which contrast with the dark bark of its twigs, very early in the year. Blackthorn hedges can appear to be covered in white. After...

Bramble - Dris Bramble - Dris
Rubus fructicosus

Bramble is a tough colonising plant and is notorious for rapid growth of stems, which reach out from a hedgerow to colonise new ground - they are unusual in that when they touch the ground the tips can form new roots and start a new plant. These rooted branches are called 'stolons'. It is...

Broom - Giolcach sléibhe Broom - Giolcach sléibhe
Cytisus scoparius

Broom is sometimes confused with gorse, because the yellow flowers are a similar shape. However, broom has a few soft leaves on the long straight stems, not spines; it grows on light sandy soils, and it only flowers in mid summer. The flowers are followed by seeds in miniature pea pods which...

Buckthorn - Paide bréan Buckthorn - Paide bréan
Purging. Rhamnus cathartic | Alder. Frangula alnus

Purging B. - An uncommon shrub, which grows at lakesides often on limestone soil around the shores of Upper Lough Erne and the Shannon, Lough Neagh and Lough Beg. It is not tolerant of heavy shade under trees or very dry sites. There is some resemblance to dogwood (it is sometimes called 'black...

Crab Apple – Crann fia-úll Crab Apple - Crann fia-úll
Malus sylvestris

Like the wild cherry, crab apple has been deliberately grown around old farmsteads (and the fruit used for crab apple jelly) but is also a truly native species found in old woodland. Crab apple is found in hedgerows throughout the country. Unlike modern hybrid apples, crab apples grow true from...

Dog Rose - Feirdhris Dog Rose - Feirdhris
Rosa canina

The Wild Rose of Summer celebrated in song and verse, the flowers are typically found in long established hedges where they enliven our roadsides with their large blooms, which vary in colour from white to deep pink. In autumn the rose hips develop, colourful red containers for the small seeds...

Elder - Tromán Elder - Tromán
Sambucus nigra

Sometimes known as the Bour tree, this is a common shrub around the countryside and often found beside old farmhouses or byres, especially associated with old refuse tips or middens where it appreciates the extra nutrients in the soil. In the wild, it may be associated with badger setts. The...

Gorse - Aiteann Gorse - Aiteann
Ulex europaeus and Ulex gallii

Perhaps the best known and most widely distributed of our native shrubs, gorse is also known as whin or furze. There are two types, the common or European gorse, and the western or mountain gorse. The common gorse is a very suitable shrub component along the edge of new woodland, and also makes...

Guelder Rose - Caorchon Guelder Rose - Caorchon
Viburnum opulus

Not a rose at all, but this is certainly one of our most attractive wayside shrubs. Guelder rose is usually found in hedges or at the edge of fields and small woods beside a drain - it needs damp. The flowers are a disc of creamy blossoms, larger at the outer edge. These are followed by...

Hawthorn - Sceach gheal Hawthorn - Sceach gheal
Crataegus monogyna

Hawthorn or white thorn was planted in hedges throughout our countryside. Its sweet smelling 'May' blossom is a feature in that month, and in autumn and winter the deep red haws colour the bare twigs. They are among the berries most favoured by birds. Only untrimmed hawthorn can flower and...

Hazel Coll Hazel - Coll
Corylus avellana

A native species with many uses and an ancient history. Hazel nuts are one of the foods associated with the very earliest human settlements in Ireland of Mesolithic man, who also used hazel as the strong flexible timber for his huts. Hazel bushes may be coppiced i.e. cut right back to a stump,...

Holly - Cuileann
Ilex aquifolium

The evergreen holly is a native species which forms the shrub layer in some of our oldest woods. You may look for it in woodland, or in the narrow gullies of the Sperrins or Donegal uplands, where holly and rowan can survive the harsh upland conditions. It is another visually attractive small...

Honeysuckle - Féithleann Honeysuckle - Féithleann
Lonicera periclymenum

A climber rather than a shrub, honeysuckle is a common component of native deciduous woodlands. The heads of pink and golden trumpet shaped flowers have a powerful sweet scent attractive to moths, which take the nectar. The flowers mature to bright red berries that are much enjoyed by birds...

Irish yew Irish yew
Taxus baccata 'fastigata'

The yew is native and may be found in old woods although it is often seen in the artificial surroundings of estates or churchyards. An evergreen conifer (although an unusual one), yew is a dramatic tree with its dark foliage and red berries encasing a single seed. Reenadina wood on the Muckross...

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