Where Is London's Tallest Tree?

Chloe Koura
By Chloe Koura Last edited 94 months ago

Last Updated 26 August 2016

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.