It’s official, Hutton hosts Aberdeen’s tallest tree

Aberdeen is blessed with many fine trees, but a recent hunch has led to one being measured – and discovered to be the city’s tallest.

Hidden away in Craigiebuckler, in the picturesque grounds of independent research organisation The James Hutton Institute, the Sitka spruce has long thought to have been a prize specimen.

But now its place has been confirmed after pupils from the neighbouring Airyhall Primary School helped measure its height – an impressive 45 m tall – officially making it Aberdeen’s tallest tree in the national Tree Register.

Thought to be at least 100 years old, the tree was planted in the Hutton’s grounds as part of an arboretum, which also includes giant redwood.

Hutton plant ecologist Richard Hewison, who helped measure the tree with the seven-year-olds, says, “We really have a hidden gem here in Aberdeen, not just the institute, but the arboretum we’re based in and now also confirmation that our Sitka is the tallest tree recorded in Aberdeen.

“Sitka spruce originates from the west coast of North America and was introduced to Britain in 1831. In its native environment, it is known to reach 100 m high and has a lifespan of about 600 years, so ours still has plenty of growing room. Hopefully it’ll be here for some time to come for people to enjoy, as part of our Open Science Campus, alongside the rest of the wonderful trees and wildlife we have here on site.”

The Sitka Spruce stands at 44 m-tall, making it the tallest tree in Aberdeen, according to the UK Tree Registry.
Two of the pupils from Airyhall Primary School, who helped to measure the height of the Hutton’s tree.

The Sitka is one of four Champion trees in the Hutton’s arboretum, which was planted out in the 19th century by engineer John Couper, who owned the Craigiebuckler estate from the 1860s until it was acquired by the Macaulay Institute, now part of the Hutton, in the 1930.

Couper had worked overseas, including China, and, following a trend at the time, decided to plant the estate with exotic conifers, as well as building a pond, pagoda and a boat house.

The three other Champion trees in the Hutton’s arboretum are an Acer, native to Japan, Korea and China; a Sorbus, which is a type of rowan, native to China; and a less exotic Alnus, which is a type of alder.

On a national level, the Hutton’s Sitka is tall, but not quite as tall as the UK’s tallest, which stands at more than 63 m in Relugas, near Forres. The tallest Sitka in Aberdeenshire is in Drumtochty Glen, near Fettercairn, at 55 m tall.

More information from: Elaine Maslin, Media Officer, The James Hutton Institute, tel: +44 (0)1224 395076 or +44 (0)7977 805808

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog post are the views of the author(s), and not an official position of the institute or funder.