Jeff Segal Cabinetmaker - Handmade furniture in the Arts and Crafts tradition

British timber species

There are around 33 native British species of trees, including three types of conifers (commonly known as softwoods). Native trees are the ones that colonised Britain after the last Ice Age and before they were cut off from the continent of Europe by rising sea levels. They support more birds, animals and other flora and fauna than introduced species.

A number of other species have become naturalised – in other words they grow wild here after being introduced from other countries.

Here's a list of all the native trees of Britain, plus the principal naturalised species. Not all of these are suitable for cabinet-making, of course. But there are many others, such as cedar of Lebanon, which are commonly grown in Britain and can be used in furniture. Timber grown in Britain is typically called "home-grown" in sawmills.

For more on native trees, visit the Woodland Trust's British Trees website. Or check out the Guide to Tree Identification at Woodlands.co.uk.

For images of timber types, have a look at the highly informative website of Capital Crispin Veneer, where I buy my veneer supplies.

 

Broadleaves (hardwoods)

Family Species Botanical name Native or naturalised?
Willow (Salicaceae) Aspen Populus tremula Native
Black Poplar Populus nigra Native
White Poplar Populus alba Possibly native
Grey Poplar Populus canescens Naturalised
Bay Willow Salix pentandra Native
Goat Willow (Sallow) Salix caprea Native
Crack Willow Salix fragilis Native
White Willow Salix alba Native
Walnut (Juglandaceae) Common Walnut Juglans regia Naturalised
Birch (Betulaceae) Silver Birch Betula pendula Native
Downy Birch Betula pubescens Native
Common Alder Alnus glutinosa Native
Hornbeam (Carpinaceae) Hornbeam Carpinus betulus Native
Hazel (Corylaceae) Hazel Corylus avellana Native
Beech (Fagaceae) Beech Fagus sylvatica Native
Sessile Oak Quercus petraea Native
Common (English) Oak Quercus robur Native
Turkey Oak Quercus cerris Naturalised
Holm Oak Quercus ilex Naturalised
Sweet Chestnut Castanea sativa Naturalised
Elm (Ulmaceae) Wych Elm Ulmus glabra Native
English Elm Ulmus procera Possibly native
Smooth-leafed Elm Ulmus carpinifolia Naturalised
Rose (Rosaceae) Rowan Sorbus aucuparia Native
Whitebeam Sorbus aria Native
Wild Service Tree Sorbus torminalis Native
Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna Native
Midland Thorn Crataegus laevigata Native
Medlar Mespilus germanica Naturalised
Wild Crab Apple Malus sylvestris Native
Common Apple Malus domestica Naturalised
Common Pear Pyrus communis Naturalised
Bird Cherry Prunus padus Native
Wild Cherry Prunus avium Native
Myrobalan Plum Prunus cerasifera Naturalised
Black Cherry Prunus serotina Naturalised
Pea (Leguminosae) False Acacia Robinia pseudoacacia Naturalised
Holly (Aquifoliacae) Holly Ilex aquifolium Native
Box (Buxaceae) Box Buxus sempervirens Native
Maple (Aceraceae) Field Maple Acer campestre Native
Norway Maple Acer platanoides Naturalised
Sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus Naturalised
Horse Chestnut (Hippocastanaceae) Horse Chestnut Aesculus hippocastanum Naturalised
Lime (Tiliaceae) Small-leafed Lime Tilia cordata Native
Broad-leafed Lime Tilia platyphyllos Native
Olive (Oleaceae) Common Ash Fraxinus excelsior Native

Conifers (softwoods)

Family Species Botanical name Native or naturalised?
Yew (Taxaceae) Common Yew Taxus baccata Native
Cypress (Cupressaceae) Common Juniper Juniperus communis Native
Pine (Pinaceae) Scots Pine Pinus sylvestris Native