Trees at Roath Park Botanic Garden

The Botanic Garden has a large and varied collection of trees, including many that are rare and of historical interest. Some, such as the large oaks, pre-date the park, and others were planted when the park was first laid out in the 1890s. More recently the park has acquired trees from the Cardiff University botanic garden at Leckwith, which closed in the 1980s, and numerous donations of rare trees from Roger and Vicky Smith.

Writing in the Guide to Roath Park in 1905[1], W.W. Pettigrew described the Botanic Garden's general layout in respect of trees, and this can still be seen in the present-day park:
On entering the Botanic Gardens by the S.E. gate, a number of different coniferous trees and shrubs may be observed on either side of the footpath...The Piceas [Spruces] are growing on the narrow strip of grass between the path and the boundary fence, and the majority of the Abies [Firs] are planted on the sloping ground by the Rock Garden and the small Pond, while the Pines are to be found near the shelter in the direction of the Bandstand.Three Pines believed to have been planted by Pettigrew can be seen in that location, which now corresponds to the area immediately south of the children's playground.

Pettigrew also mentioned two notable trees which can still be seen in the Botanic Garden:One of the most peculiar and interesting trees ... is Ginkgo biloba (Salisburia adiantifolia), the Maidenhair Tree of Japan, a small specimen of which is growing on the piece of ground lying between the herbaceous beds and the brook, and quite close to the path, mid-way between where it joins the main walk at the south-west entrance and the Aquarium. According to the "Kew Hand-list," the Ginkgo is the last representative of one of the most ancient types of plants, and has never been known to exist in a wild state.This tree remains in that position, looking north on the right-hand side of the path that runs east of the Rose Garden, just north of the conservatory.

Pettigrew's second notable tree was a Swamp cypress (Taxodium distichum) which was "growing in the shrubbery opposite the peat border and adjoining the beds of medicinal plants." (The peat border was "at the northern end of these gardens, abutting upon the Lake Embankment and on the western side of the Brook.") In the present day park this tree is to be found beside the path on the eastern side of the open-ended Acer garden.[2]

Two oak trees in the Botanic Garden are known to predate the park. One is in the children's play area and can be seen in early postcards of the bandstand. It is calculated to be about 236 years old. The other is Quercus robur (Common oak), east of the conservatory on the other side of the brook. This is calculated to be about 237 years old.[3]

The following tables show the current notable trees arranged as two walks around the Botanic Garden. These tables can be sorted on botanical name or common name by clicking on the Name or Common Name heading. Post numbers refer to the Champion Tree Trail.

From the conservatory, walking along the main path on the east side of the Rose Garden and continuing counter clockwise to return to the conservatory via the west path, the following trees are notable:-

Name Common Name Origin Status Location   OS Grid Post Place Event
Juglans nigra Black walnut East North America Wales Champion 2013 Behind the conservatory ST 18553 79008   Roath Park Botanic  
Quercus bicolor Swamp white oak East North America Rare GB Champion 2013 W bank of brook, N of conservatory ST 18548 79028 1 Roath Park Botanic  
Liriodendron tulipifera Tulip tree East North America Wales Champion 2013 W bank of brook, N of conservatory ST 18551 79060   Roath Park Botanic  
Pinus pinea Stone pine Mediterranean   W bank of brook, N of conservatory ST 18562 79085   Roath Park Botanic  
Ilex latifolia Tarajo holly China & Japan Rare Wales Champion 2013 N of conservatory, E edge of Rose Garden ST 18524 79017   Roath Park Botanic  
Ginkgo biloba Maidenhair tree China Guide to Roath Park 1905[1] North of the conservatory ST 18537 79018   Roath Park Botanic  
Crataegus tanacetifolia Tansy-leaved hawthorn South West Asia Rather rare N of conservatory, E edge of Rose Garden ST 18523 79032   Roath Park Botanic  
Ginkgo biloba 'Pendula' Weeping Maidenhair China GB Champion 2013 North of the conservatory ST 18533 79043 2 Roath Park Botanic  
Ulmus 'Sapporo autumn gold' Sapporo elm Garden origin GB Champion 2013 North of the conservatory ST 18537 79017 3 Roath Park Botanic  
Liquidambar formosana Chinese sweet gum South China & Taiwan Rare Wales Champion 2013 East border of Rose Garden ST 18524 79076   Roath Park Botanic  
Pterostyrax corymbosa   East Asia GB Champion 2013 W of brook, beside middle bridge ST 18522 79165 4 Roath Park Botanic  
Taxodium distichum Swamp cypress South east USA Wales Champion 2013 East border of Acer Lawn ST 18520 79174   Roath Park Botanic  
Broussonetia papyrifera Paper mulberry East Asia Rather rare Wales Champion 2013 W of brook, 30M S of N bridge ST 18521 79161   Roath Park Botanic  
Cercis siliquastrum Judas Tree Eastern Mediterranean Glamorgan Champion 2015 West of brook, 26M S of N bridge ST 18524 79169   Roath Park Botanic  
Ilex macrocarpa   China GB Champion 2013 East border of Acer Lawn ST 18503 79188 5 Roath Park Botanic  
Laurus nobilis 'Aurea' Golden bay Mediteranean region GB Champion 2013 West of brook, opposite north bridge ST 18511 79197 6 Roath Park Botanic  
Pterostyrax hispida Epaulette tree China & Japan Rare Wales Champion 2013 West of brook, beside north bridge ST 18511 79210   Roath Park Botanic  
Osmanthus yunnanensis Giant osmanthus Central China Wales Champion 2013 West of brook, near north bridge ST 18516 79210   Roath Park Botanic  
Kalopanax septemlobus Castor aralia East Asia Rather rare Wales Champion 2013 North east side of Acer Lawn ST 18502 79199   Roath Park Botanic  
Meliosma parviflora   China GB Champion 2013 West of brook, near north bridge ST 18508 79213 7 Roath Park Botanic  
Magnolia grandiflora Southern evergreen magnolia South east USA   East border of Acer Lawn ST 18501 79208   Roath Park Botanic  
Lomatia ferruginea Fuinque S. Andes Rather rare Wales Champion 2013 North east corner of Acer Lawn ST 18497 79212   Roath Park Botanic  
Styrax japonicus Snowbell tree Japan & Korea Wales Champion 2013 West of path, north of north bridge ST 18500 79215   Roath Park Botanic  
Emmenopterys henryi   Eastern Asia Rare GB Champion 2013 North of Acer Lawn ST 18489 79222 8 Roath Park Botanic  
Cornus controversa 'Variegata' Wedding cake tree Japan, China & Taiwan Wales Champion 2013 West side of Acer Lawn ST 18482 79203   Roath Park Botanic  
Diospyros kaki Japanese persimmon China Very rare Wales Champion 2013 West side of Acer Lawn ST 18481 79197   Roath Park Botanic  
Quercus x andegavennis   Pyrenees GB Champion 2013 West side, beside toilets ST 18462 79210 9 Roath Park Botanic  
Quercus pyrenaica Pyrenean oak South west Europe Rare GB Champion 2013 West side, beside toilets ST 18466 79192 10 Roath Park Botanic  
Zanthoxylum simulans Chinese prickly-ash China & Japan   West side, south of toilet building ST 18467 79165   Roath Park Botanic  
Melia azedarach Bead tree West Asia to Australia Very rare Wales Champion 2013 West side, south of toilet building ST 18461 79124   Roath Park Botanic  
Magnolia virginiana Swamps bay Eastern USA Rare Wales Champion 2013 West of the Rose Garden ST 18480 79092   Roath Park Botanic  
Magnolia denudata Yulan China Rare West border of Rose Garden ST 18476 79080   Roath Park Botanic  
Malus 'Magdeburgensis' Magdeburg apple Temperate regions GB Champion 2013 West border of Rose Garden ST 18480 79062 11 Roath Park Botanic  
Xanthoceras sorbifolium Shinyleaf yellowhorn China   East side of west Species Border ST 18483 79066   Roath Park Botanic  
Albizia julibrissin 'Rosea' Pink siris South Asia to Korea Rather rare West border of Rose Garden ST 18478 79058   Roath Park Botanic  
Styphnolobium japonicum Pagoda tree North China Pettigrew 1894 planting[4] 35 metres north of SW entrance ST 18478 78999   Roath Park Botanic  
Cupressus arizonica var. glabra Smooth Arizona cypress USA Wales Champion 2013 30 metres north of SW entrance ST 18479 78983   Roath Park Botanic  
Idesia polycarpa #1   Japan, China Rare South end of West Species Border ST 18498 78980   Roath Park Botanic  
Idesia polycarpa #2   Japan, China Rare South end of West Species Border ST 18499 78977   Roath Park Botanic  
Eucalyptus dalrympleana Mountain Gum Australia Rather rare Approx 14M from the SW entrance ST 18501 78947   Roath Park Botanic  

Start at the conservatory and cross the bridge to the east side of the brook, walk north toward the Promenade, and just before the children's playground take the uphill path on the right, leading to the old rock garden and follow this path back to the south east entrance. The following trees are notable:-

Name Common Name Origin Status Location   OS Grid Post Place Event
Pyrus calleryana 'Chanticleer' Callery pear China GB Champion 2013 West of brook, beside conservatory ST 18569 78944 12 Roath Park Botanic  
Catalpa bignonioides Indian bean tree East USA Wales Champion 2013 Beside the Conservatory bridge ST 18575 78943   Roath Park Botanic  
Sequoiadendron giganteum 'Pendulum' Weeping sequoia USA California Rare Near the Conservatory bridge ST 18595 78943   Roath Park Botanic  
Quercus robur Common oak Europe   East of brook near Conservatory ST 18575 79006   Roath Park Botanic  
Quercus frainetto Hungarian Oak South east Europe   East of brook. ST 18576 79034   Roath Park Botanic  
Tsuga canadensis 'Microphylla' Eastern hemlock 'Microphylla' East North America Wales Champion 2013 East of brook ST 18573 79100   Roath Park Botanic  
Pinus nigra maritima Corsican pine Corsica, Sicily, S. Italy Pettigrew 1894 planting[4] Lawn, east of brook ST 18584 79120   Roath Park Botanic  
Quercus libani Lebanon oak E. Turkey to Syria Rare Wales Champion 2013 Enclosure at north east end ST 18598 79127   Roath Park Botanic  
Pinus hartwegii Hartweg's pine Mexico Wales Champion 2013 Lawn, east of brook ST 18579 79145   Roath Park Botanic  
Pinus nigra austriaca Austrian pine Austria, Italy, Balkans Pettigrew 1894 planting[4] Lawn, east of brook ST 18575 79153   Roath Park Botanic  
Prumnopitys andina Chilean plum yew Southern Argentina Rather rare GB Champion 2013 Between Promenade & 2nd bridge ST 18562 79187   Roath Park Botanic  
Fraxinus americana 'Autumn Purple' White ash East North America   Within childens playground, near entrance ST 18578 79221   Roath Park Botanic  
Quercus robur Common Oak Europe Seen on early postcards[5] Within childrens playground ST 18558 79262   Roath Park Botanic  
Metasequoia glyptostroboides Dawn redwood Central China Wales Champion 2013 Enclosure at north east end ST 18591 79156   Roath Park Botanic  
Picea breweriana Brewer's weeping spruce West USA Wales Champion 2013 Enclosure at north east end ST 18598 79155   Roath Park Botanic  
Ilex aquifolium 'Angustifolia' Garden origin   GB Champion 2013 East side bank, rock garden ST 18602 79057   Roath Park Botanic  
Maclura pomifera Osage orange Central USA Rare GB Champion 2013 South east end, beside railings ST 18609 78992 13 Roath Park Botanic  
Abies magnifica Californian red fir California & Oregon Rare Southerly path to Rock Garden ST 18602 78992   Roath Park Botanic  
Picea mariana Black spruce North America Rather rare Wales Champion 2013 South east end, beside railings ST 18610 78972   Roath Park Botanic  
Picea orientalis Oriental spruce Asia Minor   South east end beside railings ST 18608 78966   Roath Park Botanic  
Picea sitchensis Sitka spruce NW North America   South east end beside railings ST 18605 78952   Roath Park Botanic  
Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Aurea' Lawson cypress Oregon & California     ST 18589 78935   Roath Park Botanic  
Picea pungens 'Glauca' Blue Colorado spruce West USA   South east end, beside railings ST 18609 78930   Roath Park Botanic  
Picea torano Tiger-tail spruce Japan Rather rare Wales Champion 2013 Near south east entrance ST 18602 78912   Roath Park Botanic  
Sorbus hupehensis Hubei rowan China   By the south east entrance ST 18610 78906   Roath Park Botanic  
Paulownia tomentosa Foxglove tree China   By the south east entrance ST 18598 78899   Roath Park Botanic  

The history of Roath Park

Sources of Information

  1. Guide to Roath Park and Catalogue of Herbaceous Plants in Botanical Gardens. Published by the Western Mail, 1905. pages 53-54
  2. Trees of Roath Park: A tree lovers appreciation of the notable trees in the Park by Roger Smith compiled and edited by Vicky Smith and Helen Phillips, 2010, page 21
  3. Estimating the Age of Large and Veteran Trees in Britain pdf(pdf)
  4. W.W.Pettigrew. The Botanical Garden Roath Park. Cardiff Naturalists' Society 1894-5, volume XXVII part I, pages 52-62
  5. Tree was mature in early postcards of the bandstand