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  • Billy Pearce

Bermondsey's Trees

Updated: Apr 6, 2020

The story of Bermondsey's exotic tree population for those who want to discover the neighbourhood.


The qualities of the London plane are well known and it rightly forms the backbone of our tree population as it lines the major roads cutting through our area, sucking up and storing great quantities of carbon. A vital piece of the anti-pollution puzzle.


From its origins as Beormund's Eye surrounded by marshland and dating back beyond its 1086 reference in the Domesday Book, the Bermondsey of today has become a bustling neighbourhood in the heart of London and, nestled on the Thames, has seen people from all over the world arrive in waves of immigration, going back through centuries.

Today, Bermondsey's range of cultures and nationalities is reflected by its diversity in tree species. There are currently around 6000 trees in Bermondsey; from the ubiquitous London plane, through myriad maples and sporadic sweetgums, to the beautiful Persian silk tree, the whole world is here: North American maples and sequoias, European planes and sycamores, Middle-Eastern Judas trees and Persian ironwood and Tasmanian eucalyptus.


The Chinese Tree of Heaven is common across Bermondsey; planted by Ada Salter for its rapid growth and intended to beautify the early 20th century slums of Bermondsey. In the tree world, the Tree of Heaven is regarded as a bit of a thug. It elbows out other species, grows everywhere and has quite a pong. However, if you regard it as resourceful, adaptable and well able to take care of itself, then it's arguably the ideal tree for Bermondsey.


Talking of suitability, the excellent qualities of the London plane are well known and it rightly forms the backbone of our tree population as it lines the major roads cutting through our area, sucking up and storing great quantities of carbon. A vital piece of the anti-pollution puzzle. These huge trees though are not the only big boys that live on our streets. The black poplar is of similar size to the London plane, although sadly becoming scarce these days.


Also, well spread across Bermondsey is the lime or linden tree, which flowers in early summer and is a magnet for bees and other pollinators. Don't be fooled by the name though, these don't produce the lime fruit! If you are searching for delicious ripe fruit in Bermondsey, then you will find two strawberry trees around the corner from the Horseshoe Inn. These small trees bear aromatic fruit in autumn. Don't forget to bring a ladder if you'd like to taste the exotic and delicious fruit.



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