Wales' Tree of the Year 2019: Shortlist revealed

Rob McBride
Image caption Rob McBride became a self-styled "tree hunter" following a breakdown brought on by stress

A four-century-old oak in a pub car park and a ginkgo donated by a Japanese naval hero have made the shortlist for Wales's Tree of the Year 2019.

Seven trees are being put to a public vote organised by the Woodland Trust.

Volunteer Rob McBride said trees "saved his life" following a breakdown in 2004.

He said their role in fighting climate change and improving mental health meant "tree-hugging has become mainstream."

"I was an IT software engineer and worked and worked and worked," he said.

"On my last day in work I was blue-lighted in an ambulance. It's an epidemic of stress.

"I knew I had to do something physical so I started volunteering."

The self-declared "tree hunter" from Ellesmere, Shropshire, has been passionate about trees ever since.

"Ancient trees can be a middle class pursuit but coming from a working class background I like to take them to everyone, people in the pubs."

Winning trees from each of the four countries of the UK will receive a £1,000 reward which can be used to fund a health check from a tree expert, educational material or to hold a celebratory event in honour of the tree.

A panel of experts will then select one of the four trees to go forward to represent the UK in the European Tree of the Year competition.

The public vote closes on Friday.

The Cathedral Road lime, Cardiff

Image copyright Mark Zytynski / WTML

This tree's enormous size and huge canopy has been described as "pure joy" and "uplifting to look into on days of weariness or stress". It was nominated by the Cardiff Civic Society.

Cefn Mably oak, Michaelston-y-Fedw, Newport

Image copyright Mark Zytynski / WTML

Situated in a pub car park, this ancient oak could be as much as 460 years old which would make it one of the oldest trees in Wales.

The Newtown black poplar, Newtown, Powys

Image copyright Mark Zytynski / WTML

This endangered native species is in the centre of town. Following serious flooding in 1960 and 1964, flood prevention works diverted the course of the river so the tree, originally on north river bank, is now on the south. It has since survived plans to fell and tarmac the site.

The Pembroke Dock ginkgo, Pembrokeshire

Image copyright Mark Zytynski / WTML

In 1877 Japanese naval hero Togo Heihachiro donated a Japanese ginkgo sapling to be planted in the garden of what was then a master shipwright's house. Saplings from this 142-year-old ginkgo are being nursed at the National Botanic Garden of Wales for shipping back to Japan for the many cities with connections to Admiral Togo.

The old sweet chestnut, Pontypool, Torfaen

Image copyright Mark Zytynski / WTML

This hollow 400-year-old tree stands in Pontypool Park. It has been the site of many childhood games of hide-and-seek over the centuries.

The Prisk Wood lime, Penallt, Monmouthshire

Image copyright Mark Zytynski / WTML

Situated on a steep slope above the River Wye, the tree produces many flowers for bees. A beetle, so rare it was thought to have become extinct during the Bronze Age, is found in the Wye Valley and has been recorded in the decaying branches of this tree.

The Railway Street cherry tree, Splott, Cardiff

Image copyright Mark Zytynski / WTML

In an urban area, this tree was the focus of a community "tree party". Multilingual invitations were sent out, locals baked cakes, hung bunting and plants were swapped in the pouring rain.

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