Species

There are over 500 species of plants and animals associated with the Meirionnydd Oakwoods. To get you started the following pages have a few of our more important and sometimes common species, giving you a bit of information about each one and a few clues of where to look for them on your next visit to the woodlands.

If you are out and about in the Meirionnydd area you are bound to see woodlands but we want you to look a little closer at some of the important local tree and plant species that make these woods so special.

 

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English Oak
(Quercus Robur)
…there are two main species of Oak in Britain (Sessile and English) both of which are present in the Meirionnydd area, unfortunately both species frequently cross giving us a hybrid or third type of Oak. The easiest way to spot an oak tree is by looking at its leaves (if it is winter then have a look on the floor and see what leaves are still around the tree). The leaves have well rounded lobes as you can see in the picture. You can also tell the difference between the type of oak by looking at the length of the stalk joining the leaf to the branch. If the stalk is about 2cm long then it’s a Sessile Oak, if it’s only about 1cm long it will be an English Oak and if it’s somewhere in the middle then you’ve probably found the hybrid.
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English Oak
– Leaves
There aren’t many mature Oaks in this area due to the steep slopes and fairly regular landslips and in places there is evidence of past coppicing. Strong winds funelling down the gorges can also restrict the tree height.

Oak trees of either species support a huge variety of wildlife and it’s estimated that they provide habitat for somewhere between 700 and 1000 species of invertebrates.

The timber is extremely strong and durable and has many uses.

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Old Sessile Oaks
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Sessile Oak Leaves and Acorns
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Ash Leaves
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Ash Twig
Ash trees are easily recognised by their leaves though this can present problems as they are one of the last species to leaf in the spring and one of the first to shed them again in the autumn. The leaves are shown in the picture and are known as compound leaves – this means the leaf is made up of between 7 – 13 leaflets each being about 5 – 12 cm in length, an elongated oval shape and pointed at the tip. The edge of each leaflet is serrated.

When there aren’t any leaves present ash trees have very distictive buds (see picture). The twigs bend up slightly at the end finishing in a large black bud.

Ash also supports a lot of wildlife and especially in upland conditions ash can be incredibly valuable.
The timber is fairly featureless but still has a range of uses from shinty, hurley and hockey sticks to furniture.

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Wych Elm
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Wych Elm seed and leaf
Most of the Elm trees in the Meirionnydd Oakwoods Project area are very young. This is because all the old trees have nearly all been killed off by Dutch Elm disease. The young trees tend to grow from the roots of the some of the dead trees. Unfortunately as they mature they too become infected with the disease – so it is unlikely that there will be many mature Elms in the area for a long, long time. The dead trees still have value as many insects depend on dead wood to breed and feed and the dead elms currently offer all they need.
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Wych Elm buds
Elm leaves have very strongly serrated edges. The easiest way to spot them is to look at their base where the leaf joins the stalk – the two sides of the leaf should join the stalk at different heights.
The timber from Elm is extremely beautiful and is used in fine furniture making.