Broadleaf woodland is characterised by trees which do not have needles.
Their leaves are broad and vary in shape, and most of them are deciduous. The patterns of losing and gaining leaves allows for the woodland floor and understorey to be just as varied as the canopy.
Woodland with oak and birch occurs on more acidic and infertile soils and flourish in both highland and lowland environments. Whereas native beech woods thrive in chalky soils in Southern England and Wales, they support many rare and specialist plants, fungi and invertebrates.
Lichens and mosses also love humid oak woodlands and rare orchids, fungi and money spiders flourish in the shady leaf litter of beechwoods. Ash woodland grows in areas of limestone and other base-rich soils.
Broadleaved woodlands are rich in wildlife as oak alone supports huge numbers of invertebrates and the birds and mammals that, in turn, depend on them. Wildlife that thrives in broadleaf woodland includes foxes, badgers, hedgehogs, brown long-eared bats, great spotted woodpeckers, cuckoos, slow worms, stag beetles and purple emperor butterflies.
Maple (Acer) leaves are dark green with curved edges. In autumn, the bright green leaves turn into a beautiful golden colour, adding a rich splash of colour to your woodland. Once pollinated by insects, the flowers develop into winged fruits. Lots of species are attracted to the maple tree, the fruits are eaten by small mammals while the flowers provide a nectar for bees and birds.
The variation of types of birch can provide a contrast in your woodland. Downy birch (Betula pubescens) is more upright than silver birch (Betula pendula). The triangular leaves are rounded at the base on downy birch and the drooping branches form a light canopy. Silver birch also provides a light canopy, the triangular leaves fade to a beautiful yellow in autumn and the white bark provides an elegant variation of colour.
Oak (Quercus robur)
Oak (Quercus robur) has a majestic presence, its broad crown with sturdy branches make it a large tree, growing 20 to 40 metres tall. Oak trees support a range of wildlife from insect species to birds. In autumn, mammals such as squirrels, badgers and deer feed on acorns. The soft leaves break down in autumn which forms a rich leaf mould beneath the tree which is invaluable to invertebrates such as the stag beetle and fungi such as oakbug milkcap.
Beech (Fagus sylvatica)
Beech (Fagus sylvatica) is a home to rare wildlife. Beech grows in woods or as single trees, usually on drier, free-draining soils such as chalk, limestone and light loams. Beech has a denser canopy which supports rare plant species such as box (Buxus), coralroot bittercress (Dentaria bulbifera) and a variety of orchids. Native truffle fungi grow in beech woods, these fungi are ectomycorrhizal. This means they help the host tree obtain nutrients in exchange for some of the sugar the tree produces during photosynthesis.
Hazel (Corylus avellana)
Hazel (Corylus avellana) is very useful as a conservation saviour. Hazel is often coppiced which allows it to live for several hundred years. Coppiced hazel creates open wildflower rich habitats which support butterfly species such as fritillaries and shelter for ground-nesting birds. Hazel leaves turn yellow before falling in autumn. The hazelnuts are food for dormice, woodpeckers, nuthatches, tits, wood pigeons, jays and small mammals. Hazel flowers also provide early pollen for bees.
White willow (Salix alba)
This tree can grow up to 25m high with an irregular crown. The bark is grey-brown which matches the slender and flexible twigs. In winter, the leaves change from green to yellow-brown. White willow is deciduous which means male and female flowers grow on separate trees. The catkins appear in early spring.
Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus)
Mature trees grow up to 30m and can live for more than 300 years. The pale bark contrasts the oval, pointed, green leaves which become a golden yellow in autumn. The catkins develop into winged fruits called samaras. Often hornbeam keeps its leaves all year-round which provides nesting opportunities and shelter for birds and small mammals.
Rock whitebeam (Sorbus rupicola)
This is often found on rocky woodlands, grassland, scrub and cliffs. It can grow up to 10m high with upright stems and oval, green leaves. The dark red berries fruit from September to November.
Whitebeam (Sorbus aria)
Mature trees grow 15m high. It has smooth grey bark and the shoots are brick red in sunlight and grey in shade. The beautiful flowers appear in clusters in May contrasting the scarlet berries which ripen in late summer or autumn.
Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia)
Rowan can grow 15m high and live up to 200 years. The silvery-grey bark contrasts the hairy purple leaf buds. The dense clusters of flowers have cream petals which develop into scarlet fruits.
Black poplar (Populus nigra)
This species has dark brown bark which appears black. It has thick fissures and burrs with lumpy brown twigs. The shiny leaves have a scent of balsam. The flowers are red or yellow-green catkins which develop into fluffy cotton-like seeds.
Small-leaved lime (Tilia cordata)
Small-leaved lime can grow 20m high with grey-brown bark which is smooth. The twigs are brown-red in the shade and shiny in sunlight. Once the flowers are pollinated, they develop into round, smooth, oval fruits.
Large-leaved lime (Tilia platyphyllos)
Large-leaved lime has darker bark than small-leaved lime. The twigs are grey-green and look reddish in sunlight. The leaves are soft and furry with hairy stalks. The flowers form in clusters which develop into oval and pointed fruits.
Wych elm (Ulmus glabra)
Wych elm can grow 30m high. The bark is smooth and grey which becomes grey-brow when mature. The twigs are covered in coarse hairs and the leaf buds are hairy, purple-black and squat in shape.
English elm (Ulmus procera)
Elm is common in hedgerows, it grows up to 30m when mature and can live for more than 100 years. English elm flowers are a dark pink-red and hang in tassels between February and March. The flowers develop into tiny winged fruits called samaras.
Elder (Sambucus nigra)
Mature elder trees grow to around 15m high and can live for 60 years. The short trunk with grey-brown, corky, furrowed bark has relatively few branches. The flowers are a cream colour which develop into small, purple-black, sour berries in autumn.
Crab apple (Malus sylvestris)
Mature trees can grow up to 10m high and can live up to 100 years. The wide, spreading canopy creates shady cover. The bark is grey-brown which can become gnarled and twisted. The ‘crabbed’ appearance is what influences its common name. It is one of the few host trees of parasitic mistletoe. The sweet spring blossom is great for pollinators. The fruits have red or white spots when ripe.
Wild cherry (Prunus avium)
The beautiful bright red fruit make it a gorgeous native tree. It can grow up to 30m and live up to 60 years. The shiny bark is a deep red-brown with cream horizontal lines known as lenticels. The flowers are white and group in clusters.
Aspen (Populus tremula)
Aspen can grow up to 25m when mature, often older trees are covered with lichen. The shimmering leaves flutter in the slightest breeze. Aspen is deciduous with catkins that appear in March and April.
Ash (Fraxinus excelsior)
Ash trees can grow 35m tall with a graceful, domed canopy. It has pale brown bark and the twigs are smooth with distinctive black, velvety leaf buds. Flowers are purple and appear before the leaves in spring.