Steyning chosen for Kew seedling scheme

The planting team, Rob Heels, Pete Varkala, Sarah Quantrill and Robin Bowers

The planting team, Rob Heels, Pete Varkala, Sarah Quantrill and Robin Bowers

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AFTER many years absence, the native black poplar tree has been reintroduced to the Steyning Downland Scheme.

A small team of dedicated volunteers set to work on Wednesday, planting along Nightingale Lane, Steyning.

The Mill Stream which runs along there from the Steyning downland has the ideal, muddy habitat for the tree.

Black poplar was once a common tree in the English lowlands. Immortalised in John Constable’s The Hay Wain, it is a riverside tree that needs silty, mudded banks to take seed.

When man cleaned up and canalised many rivers, this habitat was much reduced and by 1975 only around 1,000 adult trees where known in the whole of the British countryside.

Earlier this year, Wakehurst Place, Kew, offered 12 black poplar seedlings to the scheme as part of its national drive to reintroduce the tree.

Sarah Quantrill, conservation volunteer team leader, said: “We are very pleased to have been selected by Wakehurst Place to be part of their native black poplar re-introduction programme.

“We’re really looking forward to seeing these trees become part of the local landscape again.”

The team made some clearings in the streamed undergrowth to plant the new trees. Although small, yearling whips, these trees are expected to grow quickly in the wet stream-side silt.

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