Transition Sunderland

Backhouse Park Tree ID

12 September 2017

Last Sunday we went on a tree ID and appreciation walk in Backhouse Park, near Sunderland city centre. A map and short description of the park can be found on the Sunderland Council website:

The rain held off and it was a pleasant walk around part of the park, where we tried to identify all the trees we came across. The start of the walk was a bit of a learning curve, learning the characteristics of a tree, which got easier as we went along, reinforcing what we learned upon first seeing a species, so on the second and third time we saw it we could “name that tree”!

I find myself liking some species more than others, for their form or colour or the texture of the trunk or leaves, but this is entirely subjective and not always shared by others, which is just as well as they are all valuable assets to our wellbeing and the health of our world.

There are lots of blackberry bushes along the paths and it being the right season, there was a fair bit of foraging going on, which can only be a good thing.

So, as a list, here is what we found:





Oak (Turkey Oak)

What we all agreed must be Huntingdon Elm (photo below)


Sweet Chestnut

Black Poplar


Silver Birch




Curly Willow

Silver Poplar

Weeping Willow

There was also a tree (photo below) which we could not identify but think it might be a Pagoda Tree or Yellow Wood. They both look quite similar so we’ll have to go back when it is in flower to see if we can narrow it down to one or the other. Having looked at images of the leaves of the two trees, I reckon it is a Pagoda Tree because the leaves are more lanceolate and less elliptic than the Yellow Wood.

We also saw some conifers, but as there are so many varieties, we will have a closer look at them on another walk when we have someone who is knowledgeable on the subject and can teach us. If you are that person, please step forward!

At the end of the walk there was an effort to gather signatures “to create a Charter for Trees, Woods and People, that will redefine the relationship between trees and people in the UK for the future” which is being organised by the Woodland Trust and more information can be found at

The plan is to have another walk in Autumn when identification is more challenging, but appreciation is magnified by the range of colours.

Here’s the group of us that met for the walk.

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