OVER 50 years after it was originally planted, a 21-metre high tree at Westonbirt Aboretum has been officially named.

Known as the ‘Diva’, the goddess magnolia tree is the tallest specimen of its kind in the UK and has been give champion tree status by tree heritage group, the Tree Register of Britain and Ireland.

The tree, which is known for its spring display of abundant pink blooms, has been officially registered with The Magnolia Society as Magnolia sprengeri ‘Westonbirt Diva.’ The specimen is a direct descendant of the original tree grown at Caerhays Castle in Cornwall from seeds brought back from China to the UK in the early 1900s, by prolific plant hunter E H Wilson.

Dan Crowley, Westonbirt tree expert, said: “This tree is a real favourite at the arboretum, so it is great to be able to include Westonbirt in its name and officially call it ‘Westonbirt Diva’.

“Historical records confirm it came to us direct from Caerhays Castle in Cornwall, which is home to the National Magnolia Collection.

“It feels great to have the history, identity and name of this signature spring tree confirmed and on the record.”

The Westonbirt Diva is now in bloom for spring.

The Magnolia genus is an ancient group of more than 100 species, which were among the first flowering plants to evolve.

Pre-dating the emergence of bees, early species of magnolia were pollinated by beetles.

The species is a native of western China and has become a popular ornamental addition to gardens in the UK.

The arboretum is currently undertaking a verification project to confirm the identity of a number of priority tree groups in its collection.

The aim of the project is to improve the quality of curation at the arboretum, to ensure it continues to develop as a world-class resource for science and learning about trees.

For information about spring the Arboretum visit www.forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt-spring