Trees and Plants
The underlying geology of the Forest of Dean is limestone and sandstone and has resulted in a rich and varied flora. There are over 20 million trees in the Forest of Dean alone with a wide range of both deciduous and evergreen trees. Predominant is oak, both pedunculate and sessile. Beech is common and sweet chestnut has grown here for many centuries, as well as ash, birch and holly. Conifers include some Weymouth pine from 1781, Norway spruce, Douglas fir and larch. There is a lovely article by BBC Countryfile on the wide variety of trees here and our guide to leaf peeping, the pursuit of enjoying the autumn colours also includes some interesting points here.
The ancient Forest has changed many times over the centuries. In medieval times it was a royal hunting forest, before becoming a source of timber for the navy's Tudor warships. Read about its history here.
The Forest is home to many wild flowers as well. Foxgloves bring a vibrancy in the spring and we have one of the best displays of wild bluebells in the world. The steeper slopes of the Wye Valley often have herb paris, sanicle, sweet woodruff and yellow archangel. There is wood anemone, celandine, dogs mercury, primrose and violet which bloom before the overhead foliage thickens in the spring. The pungent wild garlic is also seen covering the forest floor in April and May.
The Forest of Dean is a haven for many different types of fungi and there are foraging trips from many providers teaching you about the fungi which can be picked and eaten. Puzzlewood is also an ideal location to see many different varieties.
Ferns are most abundant in damp and shady areas and the following are just a small sample which can be found within the Forest of Dean; male, lady, broad buckler, narrow buckler, hard and soft shield, hard fern, harts tongue, various spleenworts and polypody.
Listen to a soundscape of the Forest of Dean recorded by BBC Springwatch here.
The Cyril Hart Arboretum near Speech House also has over 200 species of trees.