Flora of Northern Ireland

Native woodland

After the end of the last ice-age, trees spread over the land and a natural, native woodland came to cover most of the island. This native woodland has now practically disappeared, chopped down for fuel and for land clearance in preparation for agriculture. Clearance of the woods began a long time ago with the arrival of the Neolithic people in Ireland some 5900 years ago, followed by successive migrations of later peoples with increasingly sophisticated technologies, so that effectively Ireland had lost all its natural woodland, save for a few small remnants, by 1700.Oak wood in winter

The main component tree species of the native Irish woodland were

Elm Ulmus glabra
Oak Quercus petraea and Q. robur
Hazel Corylus avellana
Birch Betula pubescens and B. pendula
Rowan Sorbus aucuparia
Scots Pine Pinus sylvestris
Ash Fraxinus excelsior
Yew Taxus baccata
Alder Alnus glutinosa
Holly Ilex aquifolium

A few small remnants of native woodland survive in Northern Ireland, usually conserved as nature reserves. Good examples are at Rostrevor, Co Down; Breen, Co Antrim; Boorin Wood, Co Tyrone.