Like a fragile bird avoiding the feet of an elephant, the delicate birch tree seems to be leaning warily away from the massive branches of the Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii).

 

 

This characterful multi-stem tree, planted at Dawyck in 1835, was grown from seed collected by Scottish plant hunter David Douglas in the Pacific North-West USA. Although it’s an impressive size, this tree is only an infant compared to its wild relatives, many of which are over 500 years old.  The oldest known specimen of the species is over 1,300 years old.  What might the future hold for this young tree?