"Amazing walk and now I feel like a mini Indiana Jones" Megan Jones

Champion trees Confirmed!

The plant recorders at Trebah Garden had submitted the measurements of several trees to the National Tree Register of what they believe to be the largest specimens of their kind in the country. These have now been confirmed as follows:

UK CHAMPIONS (England, Scotland & N.Ireland)

Acer palmatum (Japanese Maple)


Height 19.30m  Girth 1.92m

By the time this tree was introduced to Europe in 1820 by Carl Thunberg, Japanese growers had already developed more than 250 cultivars.  In Japanese gardens, the red form of this tree is often placed close to the water feature.  It can be grown in most climates (except v. hot or v. cold).  The Japanese Maple at Trebah was originally recorded by Thurston as being 30 feet (9m) in 1930. 

Dicksonia antarctica (Woolly Tree Fern)


Girth 1.99m

Dates back to Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.  The name antarctica relates to its relative southern location but it does not grow in Antarctica.

First introduced from Tasmania, Australia in 1786.  Produces up to 30 new fronds each year, each frond 2m long.  Trunk grows very slowly (an inch or two a year).  Surprisingly hardy, it can tolerate down to about 12C but dislikes wind and needs to be planted in a well-sheltered spot.

It is able to remain alive during transportation, which can take 7 weeks in a container ship.  It can survive being sawn off at ground level and within 4-6 weeks it will produce new fronds and within a year it can root into the ground.  Our Champion Tree Fern is easily distinguished as it has an epiphytic Rhododendron growing out of the bark on the trunk. 

Laureliopsis philippiana


Height 21.00m

This rare evergreen tree is commonly known as Chilean Tepa. It comes from central Chile and Argentina hence it is only suitable for milder climates in Europe. The specimen at Trebah is over a hundred years old and we believe it to have been planted by Edmund and Juliet Backhouse.

Magnolia campbellii


Height 24.00m

The Giant Pink Tulip Tree is the largest of all the Magnolias and comes from the Himalayas, above 8,000 feet.  The flowers open in February and continue through until March; goblet shaped initially, later spreading wide like water lilies.  The tree does not normally produce flowers until it is 20-30 years old, and a large tree carrying many hundreds of blooms is an unforgettable sight.

Sir Joseph Hooker was one of the most important botanists of the 19th Century and on his expedition to Sikkim in 1849, he reported the existence of a great tree, which he named Magnolia campbellii.  Magnolias had been introduced into Britain in the late 17th Century, but the beautiful flowers of this species exceeded all those in cultivation.

Podocarpus macrophyllus var. maki


Height 11.00m   Girth 1.60m

This slow growing tree was introduced in 1861 and is rare and confined to collections and a few gardens in the South and South West of England.  It is known as the Japanese Yew or the Buddhist Yew and is native to Japan and Southern China.  This exotic Asiatic conifer has needle-like leaves in spirals on upright branches.  It is an ideal plant for bonsai cultivation.

Rhododendron "Glory of Penjerrick"


Height 10.00m  Girth 1.21m

The Head Gardener at Penjerrick bred this tree like variety of Rhododendron in 1903. The deep strawberry red flowers fade to pink and appear from March to April.

Rhododendron protistum


Girth 0.82m

George Forrest introduced this Rhododendron into cultivation in 1918.  It was collected from a steep gorge by the Mekong River in Western China. Protistum means first of the first and it is always the earliest Rhododendron to flower at Trebah in early February.

Trachycarpus fortunei


Height 14.70 metres

The hardiest of all palm trees is anything but tropical as it comes from central China where in grows on cool, damp, misty hillsides.  It is named after Robert Fortune who sent plants to the UK in 1849 and one was planted at Kew where it still survives.  We believe our champion Trachycarpus to be over 150 years old.

Acer palmatum

The Chusan Palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) that stands at the head of Rhododendron Valley has attained the height of 14.75m. It is approximately 150 years old and may even be from the earliest distribution of this palm in the British Isles.

Champion Trees Facts

  • Trebah has 9 UK champions, 10 country champions and 19 county champions
  • The heights are recorded using an instrument called a clinometer
  • Our champion Tree Fern has a huge epiphytic pale pink Rhododedron growing out of its trunk
  • The Japanese Maple, Acer plamatum's name is derived from its hand-shaped leaves
  • The Douglas Fir is Trebah's tallest tree but not a champion
  • Champions can be the tallest or the fattest or even both!