One of the UK's foremost experts on trees has stumbled across what's believed to be the countries first naturalised Japanese cherry tree, Prunus 'Kanzan'.

They normally grow from grafted stock, but this example appears to have grown from seed, probably dropped by a passing bird as it flew over RSPB Fore Wood near Battle in East Sussex. It's in bloom right now (April 2018) surrounded by bluebells in a small clearing off a path which forms part of the local 1066 walk and looks stunning. Fore Wood is a traditional, ancient woodland with native broad-leaved trees and an understorey of wildflowers and ferns. It's home to  nuthatches, great spotted woodpeckers, treecreepers and tits and is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest [SSSI].

It was spotted and identified by one of our regular volunteers, Owen Johnson, author of the Collins Tree Guide, and probably one of the foremost tree experts in the country. They are usually planted as decorative trees in gardens. However, the planted trees are always grafted, never grown from seed. Owen had a poke around the roots and confirmed that this tree was not grafted and must have self-seeded. He believes this is the first time this tree has ever been recorded to have self-seeded in the UK. Our estimates suggest it's been on site for about thirty years and is now 7 to 8 metres tall. "Where better to hide a tree than in a woodland" said one staff member when quizzed as to why it wasn't identified earlier. The tree only stands out from the surrounding alder when it's covered in blossom, which lasts around three to four weeks.

The cherry tree is in part of the woodland outside of the designated SSSI area and is not interfering with other native species, so staff have decided to leave it to grow as an added attraction to the woodland. Set in a bed of bluebells, the cherry tree is currently looking stunning with its pink, spring blossom a vibrant contrast against the fresh green growth of the rest of the coppiced woodland.