Great British Trees:
One of the 50 trees included in The Tree Council’s book Great British Trees, published in 2002.

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Type of tree:
Riverside, Dunkeld

The Parent Larch at Dunkeld

parent larch at dunkeld

With a girth of 18.5 feet (5.6 metres), this is one of the largest European larches (Larix decidua) in the UK. It was planted after a visit to Dunkeld by a “Mr Menzies of Megeny in Glenlyon who in 1738 brought a few small larch plants in his portmanteau, five of which he left for Duke James of Atholl.” 1 Of those five, one was cut by the gardener in around 1790 “by mistake”1 and two were felled in 1809. The present tree is the last of the original five planted by Duke James. His successors, notably the 4th Duke (John, 1755 – 1830), known as the Planting Duke, were increasingly absorbed with planting European larch on the hills of Atholl. By 1830 the total planted by all the Dukes just exceeded 14 million larch trees covering nearly 10,500 acres1 (4250 hectares).


This tree (and its now dead companions) had already been dubbed “Parent Larches” by 1812 2 since they provided some of the seed for the early plantings. It now stands as a monument to the tree planting feats achieved by the Dukes and, although an old tree, it is still a magnificent specimen.

This tree grows on the edge of the grounds of the Hilton Dunkeld House Hotel. Park in the main (north) car park in Dunkeld, and walk west to the old cathedral. The tree can be found along the footpath which skirts the edge of the cathedral, where it meets the woodland.

Image: copyright M J Richardson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.