Tree Illustration from the V&A Collection


Trees are a near perfectly designed piece of engineering, allowing simultaneous strength and flexibility.   Five hundred million years ago, the creation of lignin was an important component in allowing plants to move from an aquatic habitat to a land based ecosystem. Lignin gives land plants their rigidity. It took millenia for fungi to evolve to a point where they could decay lignin, so back in the Cambrian period trees never decomposed.   The cell structure found in trees is made up of a matrix of tiny microfibrils, consisting of cellulose (allowing flexibility) and lignin (supplying strength). Through a process of tensile forces, the tree is prevented from collapsing under its own weight or snapping in a strong wind. If a tree is in a very exposed location, the structure of the matrix will adapt to create further protection.   If you are interested in reading more:   Illustration from the V&A Collection - Artist: Johann Bernard Klombeck

Autumnal leaves


Leaves change colour in response to shortening days and cooler temperatures. Chlorophyll production reduces, resulting in diminishing photosynthesis and revealing other pigments such as Carotenoids and Anthocyanins. These are responsible for our rich autumn yellows, oranges and purples. This process, called senescence, eventually causes the leaves to drop. Trees can turn early in the season if they are under stress, if they have dried out during summer or the earth is compacted around the roots.  A good layer of mulch can help them, but this should be kept clear from the base of the trunk.   Fallen leaves if collected and heaped into a pile not only create a mulch that can be used after it has broken down (this takes a couple of years), but also creates a great habitat all kinds of creatures such as frogs, toads and hedgehogs.   Trees and shrubs can create good autumn/winter colour. Beech trees in their natural setting become large but, if regularly clipped, can create a dense hedge that holds onto its leaves during winter. This is great for nesting birds in early spring. Dogwood (Cornus) is a shrub giving red stems when all the leaves are lost. The richest colour comes if it is pruned down to the ground in the spring. Japanese Maple turn a fantastic deep red and also creates a red carpet beneath the tree as the leaves fall. These are slow growing, so good for the urban garden or in patio pots.  



What is Honey Fungus? Honey fungus, otherwise known as Armillaria is commonly thought to be the largest living organism in the world. Present in the blue mountains of Oregan, where it stretches for miles. Current scientific research suggests that it could be over 8,500 years old here.   There are an estimated six species of Armillaria present in the UK, but really only two cause damage to our plants and gardens. Species mellea and ostoyae are the most deadly, causing root and lower stem rot to otherwise healthy plants, and should be treated straight away to avoid damage to other susceptible plants and trees. In short, it is the fungal disease that causes the most destruction in UK gardens, which includes the death of trees. It is particularly prevalent in the Hampstead and Highgate area and as Tree Surgeons in North London we deal with it regularly. Honey fungus mostly attacks trees and woody stemmed plants, but it can also affect perennials which regrow every spring. Some species of Honey fungus are parasitic getting nutrition from other trees and plants in your garden, but the majority are saprophytic, obtaining nutrients from dead organic matter. It is notoriously difficult to eradicate, therefore it is important to use a bonafide North London tree surgeon to identify the species and eradicate the problem.   How do I recognise Honey Fungus? Honey fungus can often attack and damage the roots of trees and plants without any visible effects, however it can also be identified by the following:   The most important distinguishing feature is a thin sheet or layer of a white creamy fungal mycelium that can be seen on the wood at the base or stem of the plant of the plant, just beneath the bark. The area will have a strong mushroom like smell. This will later decay and turn black.   Often bootlace strands of the structure are visible, these are the rhizomorphs of the fungus. Black in colour, they travel through the soil, often spreading deep below the ground, which is why it is important to treat the problem fast.   Toadstools that are orangey brown, or honey coloured can also be seen in Autumn.      Treatment Taking on board the above information, it is important to contact a qualified tree surgeon if a tree in your garden suddenly dies or if it’s crown starts to look unhealthy. Sometimes, honey fungus weakens a tree so much that it can blow over in a storm. There is chemically no way of eradicating honey fungus, the only way of getting rid of it is by digging out the source and host i.e the roots. Once these have gone completely, the rhizomorphs will not be able to survive. Another important point to remember is not to replant in that same area for at least 12 months. When you do, it is important to consider planting trees that are not susceptible to the dreaded Honey fungus!!!   For further information on Honey fungus identification, tree surgery and advice in North London, including Muswell Hill, Alexandra Palace, Highgate, Hampstead and Crouch End, please contact Clear Cut Trees today...



The Oak Processionary Moth (OPM or Thaumetopoea processionea) is becoming an increasing issue in the capital. Since their accidental introduction to Great Britain from mainland Europe in around 2006, they now have a well established population.   Not only do they decimate our native oak trees by stripping foliage, but they are extremely toxic to humans and animals. The (utricating) hairs that surround the caterpillar have a particularly potent effect on the skin and respiritory function, in some cases causing a serious rash and breathing problems.   The adult moth is brown with a wingspan of approximately 25-30mm and emerge from pupae in late summer. Mating ensues and eggs are laid high in the canopy to hatch in spring. Once they have grown into caterpillars, they can easily be identified by the long white hairs and nose to tail movement they are named after. Nests look akin to a spider's web, with the caterpillars only leaving to feed in convoy at dawn and dusk.    Removing the nests is a very specialised skill as biohazard protective clothing must be worn and the nests incinerated appropriately. Clear Cut Trees can provide this service on request.   Please contact us to arrange a visit if you suspect you have an infestation

Close up of GINKGO BILOBA leaf


Recognisable Ginkgos first appeared in the Permian era around 270 million years ago. Several different species evolved despite the mass extiction at the end of this geological period. They continued to thrive throughout the Mesozoic era sharing the land with many early dinosaurs. By the end of the Pliocene, however, only one species remained, surviving in China and is still the only species within it's distinct genus. The species is now commonly cultivated and  used in food and as medicine. Below is a picture of a fossilised Ginkgo leaf from the middle Eocene!      The tree is actually a deciduous conifer (gymnosperm), yet female examples actually procuce fruit making it extremely unique. The foliage also turns a striking yellow in the autumn making it a really good option for those who want to create an atmospheric vista in their garden. Clear Cut Trees can provide planting advice based on your specific preferences.    Please contact us to arrange a consultation        

Bat in a tree


Approximately three quarters of the UK's bat population roost in trees. These trees provide shelter for the bats and a varied species of insects for the bats to feed on - providing the perfect environment for them to live, hibernate and reproduce.   All bat species, their habitats and their resting places are protected by European Law. In short, you can not cut down, prune or do anything to your trees if they are, or if you in fact even suspect they are, inhabited by bats. Any trees that need to be felled, pruned or need any type of tree surgery should have a bat survey carried out if there is any possibility that bats may be using them as roosts.   The tree plays a very important part in an ecosystem and provides a variety of habitats for a vast range of wildlife species. Please contact us today at Clear Cut Trees for a free survey, quote and detailed advice on how to deal with bats and your trees.     Please contact us to arrange a consultation

Pollarded trees on UK street


Pollarding is a type of pruning that helps to keep trees and shrubs smaller than they would naturally grow. It is normally started once a tree or shrub reaches a certain height, and annual pollarding will restrict the plant to a predisposed terminal height. Pollarding started in the medieval times and it has been very common in Europe ever since. It is now a widely practiced method of tree surgery all over the world as it is highly effective within the urban forest. Historically, trees were pollarded for two reasons: 1) food for animals or 2) wood (fuel). One huge benefit of pollarding is that pollarded trees tend to live longer than unpollarded specimens because they are maintained partially in a juvenile state, and they do not have the weight nor wind damage that the top of the tree is normally subject too. Pollarding a tree can reduce the shade cast by a tree and in turn create more light in your garden. In addition pollards tend to grow more slowly, with narrower growth rings in the years immediately after cutting.Some examples of trees suitable for pollarding include: Ash (Fraxinus), Common lime (Tilia x europaea), Elm (Ulmus), Elder (Sambucus), Gum (Eucalyptus), London plane (Platanus x hispanica), Oak (Quercus), some species of Acer (A. negundo and its cultivars), Tulip tree (Liriodendron). These are just examples so if you have another tree not listed above call us for advice and we will be able to help. Pollarding is a highly skilled process. It usually requires an arborist due to the danger of working at heights and of course with chainsaws. Call the team at Clear Cut Trees now for your free quotation...

Tree Roots


If you have a tree growing on your property, you may be in two minds about whether to have it felled. Reluctance is perfectly understandable, given that trees often improve a property by providing a bit of picturesque greenery. On the other hand, there are certain circumstances where trees can pose a threat to people and buildings; under these circumstances, it’s best to just bite the bullet and have the tree removed. So what problems do you need to look out for? The issue that most people are aware of is subsidence, which can occur when a tree’s roots take too much moisture from the soil, causing it to shrink and thereby fail to support structures with weaker foundations built on top of it. Not all soils are shrinkable, however, and the problem is largely confined to certain types of clay soil.  Additionally, trees will only cause subsidence during long, dry spells, because the soil must already have lost most of its moisture before roots can take enough of it to cause it to shrink. All that being said, the problem is not entirely uncommon and if you start to notice any subsidence issues with your property, it’s worth considering tree removal. Tree roots can sometimes cause problems in another way too. Because they always grow towards water, a tree’s roots will sometimes grow into drains and block them, causing them to burst. Older drains, which may have ineffective seals, are the most prone to this problem, as small quantities of water tend to escape from them, thus attracting roots.  Finally, one should always be aware of the physical damage a large tree could cause if one of its limbs were to fall or if the main trunk were to collapse. This can often happen to trees during intense storms or high winds, but larger, older trees are the most at risk. Younger trees tend to be more flexible and are less likely to fall or lose a branch in violent weather. If you do have a large, old tree growing on your property, it’s worth considering tree surgery to get rid of potentially hazardous branches. It may even be that the risk of the trunk collapsing is high enough to warrant tree removal. This is a particular issue if the tree has already begun the onset of decay from fungi or bacteria. Because of the number of potential problems posed by trees, if you have a substantial specimen growing on your property, the safest course of action is to have it surveyed. Here at Clear Cut Trees, we don’t just offer tree surgery and tree removal, we also offer a consultancy and inspection service. If you have a tree growing on your property, call us and we can offer sound, professional advice about the safest course of action to take with it. We’re based in North London and our services are available anywhere in the area, so don’t hesitate to get in touch! Please contact us to arrange a consultation    


Tel : 020 8351 6057  |  Mob : 07828 967 088

©2022 Clear Cut Trees  |  Designed by Sketchanet


Clear Cut Trees Ltd: 10 North Lodge, Vallance Road, N22 7UB. Tel: 020 8351 6057, email:

Registered: Companies House, Cardiff, CF14 3UZ. Company Number: 08300807, V.A.T Registration Number: 218227813


Arboricultural Association Professional Member