Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Street trees in London look perfectly normal in the summer. But when the leaves fall, look out! They suddenly become strange, stumpy aliens!

Many of the trees on London streets are regularly pruned by "pollarding," or drastically cutting back the upper growth. Pollarding controls the size of trees that would otherwise grow too large for a streetscape, such as these London plane trees on Bassett Road, not far from our neighborhood. It also supposedly helps prevent falling branches and other debris, particularly in storms -- or so I've read.

The trees at the side of our apartment complex were re-pruned just a month or two ago, and all the thin, twiggy growth at the top of the pollard knobs was removed. The trees were left looking like bony, skeletal hands. I can't imagine how strange they're going to look when the leaves come out again in the spring.

The nature-lover in me wishes the trees could be left alone to grow into their natural state. But I can see how that might be a problem in a relatively cramped urban environment. Pollarding is popular all over Europe, and I used to see it in Morocco, too. Some people actually like the look.

I have a few more photos of London's pollarded trees here and here.


  1. Ooh I like how they look! They remind me of Edward Scissorhands - ha!

  2. "strange, stumpy aliens" I guess. How peculiar but not unappealing.

    Ms. M

  3. Pollarding sounds just a little too controlling of nature to me. The rebel in me wants to see a tree that escapes being constantly pruned back. The huge plane trees in Provence grow together to form high arches over the country roads. They look regal in their height.

  4. i learned something new today! pollarding - thanks steve

    really like the bonus snaps on your flicker account.... kind of dr. seuss-ish!

  5. nubs...nubs are good sometimes but those trees look like bound feet to me...rather painful and SO deformed for the sake of beauty?
    Oh,and by the way, to rid your blog of the horrid unreadable word verification - here's how.

    "You need to go back to the old Blogger interface to turn off word verification. From the new Blogger dashboard page, click the gear symbol under your profile picture and select "Old Blogger interface." On the old dashboard page, click on "Settings" then click on the "Comments" link below the tabs. That will get you to where you can unselect word verification. Click "Save Settings" at the bottom of that page when you are done. there is a link in the upper right hand corner of the old dashboard page so you can get back to the new interface. I hope this helps."

  6. They do the same thing to trees along urban streets here in Los Angeles. It looks so ugly and while they have their reasons, I always wonder why everyone trims their trees here. I think it MAKES them top-heavy in the end.