Native or Alien?

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Native or Alien?

It is getting a bit late for planting bare-root hedging, but you may still be able to fit it in before the end of the month (February’s edition of Gardeners’ World Magazine has a guide to planting a bare-root beech hedge on Page 79). The beech (Fagus sylvatica) hedge and specimen tree are such a common site in our towns and countryside that you would automatically assume that it is a native Irish species, but it is actually a relative new comer. The ‘Flora Hibernica’ (J. Pilcher & V. Hall, 2007), defines a native plant as being ‘only those plants that arrived since the great melt at the end of the last glaciation 15,000 years ago, but before the arrival of the first people about 7,000 BC’. Introduced from England in the 18th and 19th Centuries, the beech is only a young pup by comparison, and is therefore designated as an alien species.