A wonderful ancient sweet chestnut tree found in Betchworth Park, Surrey. Did you most of our remaining ancients are found in parks and historic royal hunting grounds rather than ancient woodland?
Few trees in woodland settings actually reach ancient status. While they are young and vigorous they can compete with their neighbours, but once they decline with old age, their canopy retrenches and the younger trees around them will outcompete them to reach the space in the canopy. As they are shaded out the older trees die off relatively quickly.
In open settings, such as wood pasture and parkland, trees do not have to compete excessively with each other for space, light, water or nutrients. Their root systems can expand much further, as can their crowns. Open-grown trees generally have short, squat, fat trunks with large diameters and spreading limbs, some of which can be almost horizontal! Now you can impress your friends with this knowledge when you spot one!🌳 (Photo by Jim Smith-Wright)