Bushcrafting is not about conquering or overcoming nature, as some popular TV shows portray. It is about living in peace and being one with nature. Knowing the names and functions of the trees you encounter will make your time in the woods a lot more pleasurable and fruitful.

Understanding nature, especially, when it comes to the trees around you, is essential to living in harmony with it. For a simple start, here are five important trees when bushcrafting in the UK and some of the most typical bushcraft applications they can be used for:

The Silver Birch

Frequently hybridised with downy birch, the Silver Birch is one of the most commonly seen, easily identifiable and essential trees for bushcraft in Scotland.

  • Bushcraft Application – In terms of bushcraft, this is one of the most adaptable trees. During early spring, the Silver Birch can be tapped for refreshment. The bark can also be used for fire lighting.


Hazel is a native of the United Kingdom, and when not coppiced, as it commonly is, it can reach a height of 12 metres. A rod of hazel was used to ward off and defend against bad spirits in ancient mythology. Hazel is a very elastic wood that can readily be bent into several shapes, which makes it ideal for bushcraft.

  • Bushcraft Application – Hazel is a wonderful choice for shelter construction due to its flexibility. It’s also a fantastic choice for creating a bow drill. Hazelnuts are also produced by Hazel.


Alder is a British native, but it can also be found as far east as Siberia. The importance of Alder in enhancing the fertility of the soil in which it grows is well-documented. The bacterium detected in the roots is to blame. Frankia Alni is a bacterium that takes nitrogen from the air and makes it available to the tree. The tree then gives the bacterium carbohydrates that it has produced through photosynthesis.

  • Bushcraft Application – Alder trees are frequently a strong sign of local water sources due to their ability to grow in moist circumstances. Due to its mild smoke flavour and sweetness, alder is an excellent wood for smoking fish and friction fires.


Often called the European Ash, the Ash was found in all of continental Europe. Ash trees can reach 35 metres in height and live for 400 years when fully grown. Bullfinches, owls, redstarts, as well as a variety of caterpillars and moths, all make their homes and/or feed on ash trees.

  • Bushcraft Application – Because they provide an airy canopy that allows sunlight to reach the wood floor, ash trees are typically effective markers of wild garlic. Ash trees also make excellent fuel and are popular for bow building.


Otherwise known as the May tree, Hawthorn is a British native tree because it blooms in May. Hawthorn is the only tree in the UK named for the month in which it blooms.

  • Bushcraft Application – Commonly used in preserves, Hawthorn trees produce dense red berries in late summer. However, if you have cardiac concerns, you should avoid eating them. The Hawthorn tree’s thorns also make excellent fish hooks, while the tree itself provides good fuel.

The winter season is well underway, and summer has long since passed. Winter in the United Kingdom, like everywhere else, brings with it wonderful changes to the natural world. Trees, in particular, undergo dramatic changes whilst deciduous trees can be difficult to identify in the winter as the leaves fall and they take on a totally different form. Therefore, bushcraft enthusiasts should be able to recognize signs in winter as well as in summer. Identifying the right kind of wood is an essential bushcraft skill. After all, one cannot make a bow drill without knowing which type of wood to use.