28 February 2017 | 3 °C

Where Is London's Tallest Tree?

Chloe Koura
By Chloe Koura Last edited 6 months ago
Where Is London's Tallest Tree?
Plane trees in Wandsworth Park. Photo: Matt Brown.

Ever wondered where London's tallest tree is? Well, it's not in central London. In fact, depending on your definition of London, it might not be in London at all.

As we started out our quest, we were stumped. However, with help from @TiCLme, we came to the conclusion that the Turkey oak (Quercus cerris) in Theobalds Park, Cheshunt, is London's tallest tree.

We know, we know. Cheshunt isn't inside Greater London. But it IS on the London Transport map (on the Overground, in zone 8), and therefore we're claiming it as one of our own.

(If this doesn't satisfy you, further tall trees in London are listed below.)

Turkey oaks can reach up to 40m, and Cheshunt's offering stood at 39m when last measured in 2012. It's probably grown a few more centimetres since then.

The Turkey oak is not native to the UK, and was brought over in the 1700s as an ornamental tree. While pretty, the species is not particularly useful; the wood is not good quality due to the speed at which the tree grows, and its tendency to cause sparks means its firewood should only be used on a woodburning stove.

Here is the towering tree in question, courtesy of @TiCLme:

Elsewhere in London's world of arboreal giants, a London plane tree (Platanus x hispanica) in Carshalton stands almost as tall as Cheshunt's Turkey oak. The last time it was measured was in 1964, when it reached 37.5m. (High time you whipped out the tape measure again, guys.)

The Forestry Commission thinks the plane tree must be 250 years old. It is definitely London's tallest London plane tree, and possibly the tallest tree in London full stop, if you're discounting the Turkey oak. Read more about plane trees here.

Runners-up include: a chestnut-leaved oak (Quercus castaneifolia) in Kew Gardens that measured 28m in 2013 (down from 33m in 2007); a honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos) on Tooting Bec Common that also measured 28m in 2013; and a 25.7m wild service tree (Sorbus torminalis) on Hampstead Heath.

Know of a tall tree we've missed? Tell us in the comments.

Last Updated 26 August 2016

Richard Stevenson

What about the redwood plantation in Havering Country Park? https://www.havering.gov.uk/Pa...

Colleen O'Sullivan

We've got several Plane trees in Lincoln's Inn Fields which are definitely 35m+. It's hard to get an accurate measurement with the laser due to the surrounding tree coverage. I will go down there this week and see if I can get an accurate measurement on the one I think is the biggest and let you know.

Susan Lowenthal

Re 'while pretty, Turkey oaks are not particularly useful' - what? Trees, especially large canopy trees, are beneficial in so many ways! Their leaves absorb pollution (especially particulates), they provide a home for birds and invertebrates, help to reduce flooding by absorbing rainwater, reduce summer temperatures by providing shade, their roots help to stabilise soils.... Pretty doesn't really cover it!

Jose Ruiz

There's a huge London Plane Tree in Carshalton in South London which has a plaque in front of it which states it is 'the tallest London Plane tree known in Britain'. It also states that the Forestry Commission measured the tree in 1964 and it was 123 feet tall (over 37 meters) then, so 53 years later you can imagine that the tree has grown considerably since then. It must be well on it's way to being 50 meters tall. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/...