Three trees, one village, many voices

A tale of two Maples

Following an article by BridgeNature.org and comments from local supporters, we can confirm that Bridge Parish Council is to reconsider its decision to pollard two Norway Maple trees on Bridge Recreation Ground. The matter will be discussed again at the next meeting of the council on 10th December 2015. BridgeNature.org thanks local people for their support. We would also like to express our appreciation to Bridge Parish Council for their consideration in allowing this matter to be reviewed.

For those members of the public who would like to express your support for the view that the trees should be gently pruned rather than brutally hacked to stumps in a method called ‘pollarding’, it is not too late to give your opinion. Please write expressing your views to the parish clerk at: clerk@bridgevillage.org.uk

Leaves of the Wild Service tree. Blean Wood, Kent. Image copyright © Mike Burns-Stark 2014.

Leaves of the Wild Service tree. Blean Wood, Kent. Image copyright © Mike Burns-Stark 2014.

Raise your glass to the Wild Service tree

This week a Wild Service tree has been planted on the recreation ground as part of the Future Heritage Tree scheme run by the Kent Heritage Tree Project and put into practice by The Conservation Volunteers.

This new tree is a delightful addition to our local landscape, partly because we should welcome all the trees we can, but also because its history within our culture is so intriguing. The Wild Service tree’s name comes from a corruption of the Latin word root ‘cervesia,’ now more commonly used across the Spanish speaking world as ‘cerveza’ meaning beer. The tree bears little green berries which turn brown when ripe and they were indeed used in ancient times for flavouring the brew before the widespread use of hops. So, we now have a beer tree in our village!

When mature, the bark of the Wild Service tree can break up into little regular squares like a chequer board, giving it the alternative name of the Chequer Tree: the fruits are sometimes called chequers too. It is thought that this may be why many olde English pubs were called ‘The Chequers’.

The new Wild Service tree. Bridge Recreation Ground. 1 December 2015.

The new Wild Service tree. Bridge Recreation Ground. 1 December 2015.

This beautiful tree, which may eventually grow to about 20 metres tall, is part of the Sorbus family which includes the whitebeam and the rowan; yet the Wild Service bears leaves of a uniquely distinctive shape. In olden times the berries were sometimes threaded onto strings and left to go over-ripe, at which point they take on a date like quality. They were often given to children as sweets.

Wild Service trees are now very rare in Britain, possibly because our summers have cooled from Roman times and the berries often fail to mature. Ironically, if global warming raises summer temperatures again we may see more berries from our own Wild Service tree. All the more reason to treasure this new addition to our landscape.

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