Trees play an important role in our lives.

Trees are the main carbon sinks in the planet; they give oxygen and clean the air we breathe. They preserve soils and water, provide food and natural renewable raw material, give work, help to improve physical and mental health, give us shade and shelter on your Camino and at the same time beautify the landscape.

Would you like to know the most characteristic trees of our area?

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THE CHESTNUT TREE. Castanea sativa.

Castiñeiro. Castanea sativa

What is it like?

he chestnut tree, which is strong and slender, attains a height of 30m and it may even grow as old as 1000 years. Its crown is thick and circular with thick branches. The trunk is straight, short and thick where they are isolated and straight and long in the thickest forest. In the oldest species, sometimes, the trunk is hollow. In its youth, the tree features a smooth red-brown, however as the tree matures the bark gets grey, thick and deeply furrowed.

Castiñeiro · Arbores

The leaves are long, oval or lance shaped and edged by widely separated teeth. They are fresh green, darker on the top than at the bottom.

The male flowers are grouped in long and narrow yellow filaments (catkin), first green and later light ochre. The female flowers are arranged in groups of three on the base of the catkin.

The fruits, the chestnuts are contained in a spiny (very sharp) called ‘bur´.

Powerful extended and robust root system.

What is it used for?

The chestnut tree provides wood, fruit, shade…enriches the soil where it lives. The excellent characteristics of its wood lead to their most varied uses. It was traditionally used for building purposes (pontoons and beams), interior and exterior carpentry, barrels, boats, posts and grain stores ‘horreos´. They also make baskets with the thinnest wooden rods of this tree. This kind of wood has always been much appreciated for making furniture, thin wood veneer or carpentry in general. Other use was the utilisation of its tannins in the tanning industry.

Nowadays, the chestnut tree is one of the most important forestry species and also valued by the quality of its wood and its multiple uses.

According to the objective of the forest owner, the chestnut tree is either intended for fruit, timber or mixed production, so that the different forestry processes will be applied.

Siuación actual do Castiñeiro

Current situation in Galicia

Chestnut tree is located along the Galician region. They grow best in a soil with good drainage and adequate moisture. They do not tolerate strong summer droughts or winter frost. Nowadays, Galicia counts with a large area of chestnut trees, either as the main species, occupying a uniform area of 12,500 hectares, or as a secondary species in mixed areas of 46,455 hectares, according to data from the IV National Forestry Inventory. Soutos, which is the specific Galician name for chestnut groves, occupy 3.48% of the total woodland in our region.

MARITINE PINE. Pinus Pinaster.

Piñeiro en Galicia

What is it like?

Pines are medium-sized coniferous trees of around 20 or 40 metres of height. Their crowns have a pyramidal shape in their early years, becoming more rounded in later years. Their trunks are crooked and straight and their bark is rugged and cracks with age.

Their leaves are the shape of needles sheathed in pairs, rigid, thick and from 15 to 17 centimetres of length. You can easily differentiate maritime pines from the Monterey pine (Pinus Radiata) by the number of needles, as in the latter there are three sheathed needles. Their flowers or floriferous cones grow in early spring. Their branches are straight and consistently whorl until the pines reach old age.

The pine cones which are long and asymmetric, stay on the branch. The pine nuts are small and when the pine cone ripens, it opens up and it comes out with a membranous wing to facilitate being scattered by the wind.

Their roots are very strong, with the primary root growing very deep, and very developed secondary roots.

What is it used for?

Indoor carpentry and some exterior carpentry (doors, windows, decking boards, baseboards).Other uses include slatted boards; structural plywood boards; pallets; and containers and packaging. Auxiliary construction (struts and formworks). Paper pulp. Boards and fibber particles.

Resin, used to make a variety of products such as cosmetics, paints, varnishes and even electrical components and food, can also be obtained from pine trees.

Situación actual do piñeiro

Current situation in Galicia

Local pine trees grow perfectly well in poor, sandy and acid soil, so they are frequent in proximity of coastal areas, although this species can reach 1,000 metres of height. According to data from IV National Forestry Inventory pine forests in Galicia occupy 39% of the total woodland. Maritime pines are the main species found, occupying more than 200.000 hectares (15% of conifers), followed by radiata and sylvestris pines, very often mixed with other species such as eucalyptus.

Oak. Quercusrobur.

Arbore Carballo en Negreira

What is it like?

The oak tree is a robust, majestic tree that can be more than 40 meters high. Its crown is wide and regular, with entangled branches and the main branches in the form of candelabra and the secondary ones sinuous. 

The trunk is right, short, reaching large diameters in isolated specimens, with a greyish and smooth bark turning cracked and brown with age. The leaves are large, simple, alternate and deciduous. They are bright green at the top and paler at the bottom, with well-marked nerves. With lobulated and rounded border.

Froitos do Carballo

Flowers in catkins. The acorns are held by long peduncles with longitudinal dark grooves.

The root system is strongly developed, penetrating and deep.

What is it used for?

Wood is used in the construction, woodwork, cabinetmaking, wood flooring, interior decoration, crossbreads, tornery, cutting down, plywood, poles, barrels. In the past, it was used a lot in shipbuilding, bridges, dams, carriages, wheels, parts of machines, wagons, etc.

The firewood and coal are high-heat fuels. Its bark, rich in tannins, was used for the tanning of leathers.

The acorns were used as food before the arrival of the Romans. They consumed them toasted or ground in flour to make bread; today they are used to feed the livestock, especially pigs, because they taste their meat.

Follas do carballo

Situation in Galicia nowadays

Oak is a frequent species in Galician valleys and waterside forests, and it grows in deep, loose and fresh soils. According to data from the IV National Forest Inventory, 17.51% of the forested area in Galicia consists of oak groves. Quercusrobus, with 125,000 hectares, is the main species and can often appear mixed with other species.

Eucalyptus. Eucalyptusglobulus

Eucaliptos en Galicia

What is it like?

It is a very tall, evergreen tree, up to 65 meters high. Its crown is dark, sparse, long and very irregular. The trunk is right and prone to helical torsion, with falling, smooth, fibrous, whitish at the beginning and then grazed bark. The leaves are dimorphic (in two shapes). Young leaves are broadly lanceolate, opposite, without petiole and pale green to blue-gray. Adult leaves are narrowly lanceolate, alternate and with petiole. Dark green and lustrous.

Flowers are solitary or in groups of 2-3, with many white stamens. The fruit is a green, brownish or greyish bell-shaped seed pod, depending on the degree of maturity, containing small and abundant seeds.

The root system is penetrating, with surface sides that develop quickly in a few years.

What is it used for?

The tree is used for the production of wood, essential oils and, most importantly, paper pulp. Its long trunks are used for the construction of mussel platforms so frequent in the Rías Galegas. Its wood is used for woodwork, structural construction, parquet, tool handles, etc.

It is a melliferous tree, a producer of abundant honey, or that attracts bees and other insects to help transport the pollen.

Situation in Galicia nowadays

Eucalyptus is a very widespread species in Galicia because large areas of our region are suitable for its development, due to precipitation, average temperatures and the absence of large periods of frost. According to data of the IV National Forestry Inventory, all eucalyptus plantations in Galicia account for more than 26% of the forested area. Eucalyptusglobulus is the main species, but in recent years the Eucalyptusnitens had a very considerable increase, mainly due to its resistance to the eucalyptus weevil (defoliator). 

ALDER. Alnus glutinosa

Ameneiro árbore frondosa mediana

What is it like?

The alder is a medium-height leafy tree, 17-22 m high, with a regular, sparse and pyramidal crown in young species and more rounded in adult ones with irregular ramification. Its trunk is straight, cylindrical and fairly clean with a greenish brown, smooth and bright bark in young species and dark in adult ones.

The leaves are single, alternate, deciduous and rounded on the tip and toothed. They are green on both sides, but paler at the bottom.  The new leaves are sticky and appear in April or May. Male flowers are arranged in long pendant peduncles called catkins which contain the pollen. When mature, female flowers form structures similar to small pineapples which contain the seeds.

The root system is not really deep, but it is very ramified, especially in humid and shallow soils. 

What is it used for?

This species lives associated to watercourses forming riparian forests called alder forests (“ameneirales”) and coexist with some other waterside vegetation, such as willow trees, birches and ashes.

It is used to manufacture veneers and plywood boards, lathing, furniture, interior carpentry (friezes, mouldings, baseboards), crafts, handles of tools and toys. It is easy to lathe and it is used to make little pieces, such as handles, pencils, bowls, clogs, boxes, furniture legs, etc. It is easy to dye.

Ameneiro arbore de follas simples

Situation in Galicia nowadays

The alder is a tree which appears all around Galicia, typical species in areas with rivers, streams and ponds, where it forms proper riparian forests, together with species such as the birch and the willow tree. Waterside forests represent a 2% of the forested area of the community, and this proportion is kept in the four provinces regarding the forested total. 

BIRCH –Betulapubescens

What is it like?

The birch is a medium-height leafy tree, between 25-30m, with a rounded and irregular crown, with a lot of leaves, but with clear shadow. Its trunk is straight and a bit uneven, with erected branches and pendant sticks and with a white or silver bark.

The leaves are simple, alternating, deciduous, pendant and doubly sawn, with marked nerves. The flowers in pendant catkins and its root system is based on widespread and superficial secondary roots.

What is it used for?

It is found in the riverside and in humid areas, normally together with other typical riverside vegetation, such as the alder or the willow tree.

Its wood is not very hard and it is elastic. It is used for building, carpentry, cabinetmaking, handles for tools, several utensils and small objects.

Situation in Galicia nowadays

The birch is a very common tree in Galicia, especially in the provinces of A Coruña and Lugo. It appears in the riverside and humid slopes. The birch supports hard weather conditions, intense cold, wind and snow. The data of the IV National Forestry Inventory indicates that birch formations in Galicia takes up the 2,66%  of the forested area. It is very common to find birches mixed with other species, such as alders.

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