The Scottish Government is considering whether Scotland should have its own national tree, and if so, what species should be chosen. The iconic Scots pine is an obvious choice for this accolade, but there are other candidates.
We’ve invited advocates for six different species to give the case for their tree. In the fifth of a series of guest blogs, Murdo Fraser MSP, Scottish Environment LINK’s Species Champion for juniper, sets out why this often overlooked shrub should be Scotland’s national symbol.
“The juniper plant is a natural choice for Scotland’s national tree, being one of the first plants to return to Scotland following the end of the last ice-age. A truly native species, juniper is now under threat from disease and requires careful conservation. As the champion of this plant I support efforts to ensure it continues to be a part of Scotland’s rich natural heritage.
Juniper has been familiar to Scots for millennia; being used in the weaving of baskets, for firewood, and to flavour many traditional Scottish foods. In particular, many Scots would wish to celebrate the juniper berry as the essential flavouring in a number of homebrewed and distilled beers and spirits. Juniper continues to be used and appreciated Scottish businesses and nature lovers, and rightly deserves to be championed.
A national tree for Scotland will recognise the importance of Scottish woodlands and help further develop a sense of Scottish identity. There are many valid contenders for the title of Scotland’s national tree but I can think of none more worthy than juniper. In many ways the juniper bush, and its survival within Scotland, represents the spirit and determination of Scots who throughout the ages have helped develop and shape many features of the modern world.
I would urge you to support Scotland’s diverse natural habit by paving the way for the common juniper to be at the heart of our great outdoors.”
How do you feel about juniper as Scotland’s national tree? You can have your say in the public consultation until 3rd December. Our final guest post in this series will be on Friday.
Rory Syme, PR and Communications Officer Woodland Trust Scotland