AN ANCIENT oak tree that succumbed to last year’s April storms is shooting new roots.
Conservationists feared the iconic Pontfadog Oak – the oldest tree in Wales – was lost forever after it fell 12 months ago in horrendous winds.
But scions – or cuttings – which were later taken from the 1,200-year-old tree and housed in nurseries across the country, including Kew Gardens in London and Savill Gardens based on the Crown estate in Windsor, are now showing positive signs of growth.
Tree hunter Rob McBride was one of those who hoped to see the historic oak stand tall again.
He said: “It’s great news. This is all about keeping the genetic line going.
“I think because certain trees in the UK are long-living, and this one was one of the longest living trees in the UK, there is something very special about the genetics of it, as well as its significance to the history of the Welsh borderlands.
“Gardeners have been doing this for years, but we’re pleased with how it has gone and look forward to seeing the cuttings going out to different places across the country.”
Other scions were taken by Wrexham Council tree officer, Moray Simpson; Shropshire Council’s tree officer, Steve Shields; and Pete Wells from the Ancient Tree Forum, who has united five scions with Quercus rootstock.
He said: “My plan is to grow them on as quickly as possible, hopefully get two or more flushes of growth during the summer, but I’m still not sure how much material will be available for further propagation whether by micro-propagation or grafting.
Oaks that last 1,000 years have their own agenda.”
As Mr McBride, from Ellesmere, and his team mark a year since the oak fell, they have revealed plans to turn the remaining stump into a memorial and have created the Pontfadog Oak Fund to help bring the project to life.
He added: “We’re hoping to put a book together and are asking people with stories related to the Pontfadog Oak to get in touch to help.”
Anyone with a story should contact Mr McBride by visiting www.treehunter.co.uk