Seeds from Sycamore Gap tree spring to life

Seeds collected from the Sycamore Gap tree after it was felled last year are beginning to spring into life.

National Trust conservationists collected seeds and material from the 200-year-old tree after it was cut down in Northumberland National Park overnight between 27 and 28 September in what detectives called a "deliberate act of vandalism".

In December, the team said there were "positive signs" new descendants could be grown from seeds and cuttings taken from the tree.

Officials also said they were "hoping" the trunk of the original tree could still regrow - but it could be three years before they know whether this is a possibility.

Experts have used a range of techniques to cultivate the material, including 'budding', where a single bud from the original tree is attached to a rootstock of the same species, and two forms of grafting - 'whip and tongue' and 'apical wedge' grafting - where a cutting from the tree and a rootstock are joined by corresponding cuts in the material.

These processes are designed to create genetically identical replicas of the original Sycamore Gap tree.

Several dozen seeds have been grown in a special peat-free compost mix after they were washed and checked for disease.

Andrew Jasper, director of gardens and parklands at the National Trust, said: "These techniques, delivered with a remarkable degree of care and precision by our conservationists, are providing a legacy for this much-loved tree.

"And while there's a way to go before we have true saplings, we'll be keeping everything crossed that these plants continue to grow stronger and can be planted out and enjoyed by many in the future.

"The response to the Sycamore Gap tree's felling has been extraordinary, and we hope that by continuing to share its story, we can raise awareness of the cultural and natural significance of these majestic trees that we're so lucky to have in the UK."

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The National Trust said the saplings wouldn't be ready to be planted for at least 12 months.

There was anger from across the globe when the felled tree was discovered.

Its position next to Hadrian's Wall - which was damaged by the tree's fall - was world-famous and featured in the 1991 Hollywood blockbuster Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves.

The tree was also popular with photographers and artists and was a frequent destination for tourists and hikers.