Corsham Court Oriental plane 'most spreading tree in UK'

Oriental Plane, Corsham Court, Wiltshire The branches of the vast 250-year-old tree are completely unsupported

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An Oriental plane the size of a football pitch has been identified as the "most spreading" tree in the UK.

The plane at Corsham Court, near Chippenham in Wiltshire, was planted by master landscape gardener Lancelot "Capability" Brown in 1760.

With an average spread of 210ft (64m) it has been identified in a study by the Tree Register of the British Isles as the country's vastest tree.

The research included 200,000 of the UK's most "superlative" trees.

The Oriental plane has been singled out as having the "largest single spread".

It is so vast that its lowest branches rest on the ground and some have taken root.

'Confusing tree'

"Several trees rest their branches on the ground, but it's the most impressive of these and it's the most spreading tree that we know of," said Owen Johnson, registrar at the Tree Register.

"It extends in each direction with branches like elephant trunks snaking across the ground - it's a very confusing tree."

Originating in the Middle East, the plane was planted as a specimen at the privately-owned stately home.

"It's a massive tree with long horizontal branches which have no supports at all," said James Methuen-Campbell, the current occupant of Corsham Court.

"It's extraordinary that it's standing without falling down.

"We recruited a tree surgeon a few years ago who suggested taking 3m off all the branches around the tree for health and safety.

"But it's such a huge, old tree I wanted to leave it to age naturally."

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