05 September 2022

From Cappadocia to
Comerford Way: one
large tree in a small town

The Cappadocian Maple on the corner of Comerford Way and Station Road in Winslow is the sixth largest tree of this species in these islands (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Patrick Comerford

I returned to the pretty, small town of Winslow late last week, mainly to photograph Comerford Way, the street off Station Road, named after Denis Comerford, the last railway signalman to work at Winslow Railway Station over half a century ago.

But a surprising discovery at the corner of Comerford Way and Station Road was the Cappadocian maple tree of Winslow. This tree is the sixth largest tree of this species found in these islands.

It is believed that this Cappadocian Maple in the open green area at Comerford Way is one of the earliest of these trees to be introduced into Britain, as early as 1838, more than a decade before the railway came to Winslow and Station Road was developed.

In the wild, the Cappadocian Maple (Acer cappadocicum) is found in Turkey (ancient Cappadocia), east along the Caucasus and the Himalayas, into south-west China. It is one of the few maples that regrows from around the base of the trunk.

It is a medium-sized deciduous tree growing to 20-30 metres tall with a broad, rounded crown. The five to seven-lobed, pointed, glossy green leaves turn a rich yellow in autumn; the leaf stalks exude a milky sap when broken. Clusters of small yellow-green flowers in early spring are followed by winged seeds.

Appropriately for the drought-like conditions we have been enduring in England in recent weeks, this tree is tolerant of drought and it grows on a wide variety of soils.

The thicket of narrow stems around the tree grow from the roots and they are a typical feature of this species.

The ‘Tree Register of the British Isles’ is a charity devoted to recording the champion trees of Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Banner Homes, Sutton Homes and AVDC, who have developed some of the modern housing around Comerford Way and the other streets in this part of Winslow, have co-operated in protecting the tree during building work, and cuttings from the tree have been propagated and grown in local schools and on nearby open spaces.

The mature trees on the site are protected by a Preservation Order issued 25 years ago in 1997.

The Cappadocian Maple on the corner of Comerford Way is protected by a Preservation Order in 1997 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

No comments: