The Commons boasts around 170 hectares of beautiful secondary woodland. Thanks to the fertile soil over London Clay on the Commons’ western slopes, visitors can enjoy and explore dense woodland as well as discover the Commons’ oldest trees that have stood the test of time and neatly border the area.
The woodlands are a mix of native species and introductions that are now naturalised in southern England. In the mature woodlands, native oak and beech are common, with lime, hornbeam and birch also present . Holly is widespread, sometimes forming dense stands Hazel is also found in the under storey. Sweet chestnut and horse chestnut, both species introduced to Britain many centuries ago, are widespread, as is sycamore, a more recent invasive introduction. Younger woodlands include extensive areas of silver birch with younger oaks and some aspen, rowan, hawthorn and the non-native turkey oak. Wild pear and apple and plum are typically interspersed throughout these younger woodlands
London plane, another introduced tree species, is notable along the roadside margin near Parkside. In damper areas willows and alder are found, especially near the ponds and in the bog areas. In the Commons’ recent history occasional ornamental tree species have been planted, including some pines. Current policy precludes deliberate planting of non-native tree species and favours use of trees of local provenance.
Controlling woodland spread into the nationally important heathlands and acid grasslands is now a key management objective. Open vistas also benefit recreational users of the Commons. The habitat diversity that ensues in turn promotes a wide diversity of associated plants and animals.
Some characteristic trees of the Commons woodlands include:
- Alder Alnus glutinosa
- Aspen Populus tremula,
- Beech Fagus sylvaticus
- Common lime Tilea x europaea
- Common oak Quercus robur
- Goat Willow Salix caprea
- Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna
- Hazel Corylus avellana.
- Holly Ilex aquifolium
- Hornbeam Carpinus betulus
- Horse-chestnut Aesculus hippocastanum
- London Plane Platanus x hispanica
- Norway maple Acer platanoides
- Rowan Sorbus aucuparia.
- Silver Birch Betula pendula
- Sweet chestnut Castanea sativa
- Sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus
- Turkey oak Quercus cerris