• Damson trees - the unknown ancients

    Damson trees are something of a regional speciality in these parts, around the knot of Heref. Worcs. Shrops. borders. Most often one finds them in old hedgerows, but there are a handful of damson/plum orchards still in existence - all very old as these trees have not been planted commercially for many a day. We have damsons in our hedges here at the farm and several trees in the garden and orchard. With the Prunus tendency to suckering - most often observed with dense blackthorn clones - we find that several of our old trees have spawned four or five satellite trees, sometimes 25 or 30 feet away from the parent, which gives a remarkable indication of the root spread. On some of the Commons around here there are whole mini woodlands of damson - sometimes with a couple of hundred stems. It woulld be fascinating to DNA fingerprint these to ascertain whether or not they have all sprung from one original tree. My hunch is that they have, in which case it poses the question - exactly how old are these trees? We may be in the realm of hundreds of years.

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