The average British adult cannot identify some of the country’s most common trees, a survey has revealed.
The study, which tested our basic knowledge of the UK’s most populous shrubs showed that many adults can’t tell a maple tree from an oak or a fir.
It also revealed that nine out of ten people struggle to identify the pointed leaves and red berries of a holly tree, and large numbers also have no idea where conkers come from.
Now this story is particularly sad – the decline of conker knowledge. What’s more British than conkers? Other than, you know, an aggressively patronising view of foreigners and an intrusive-yet-inefficient press? Oh, and bowler hats? But beside those three things, the next most British thing is definitely mucking about with horse chestnuts, on string, dipped in vinegar.
It gets worse:
More than 10 per cent of Britons admitted to never having heard of a horse chestnut, maple or even an oak tree.
Really? We’re genuinely expected to believe that 1 in 10 people have never heard of an oak tree? Or is it meant to be that if you take those who haven’t heard of a horse chestnut tree, add to that those who haven’t heard of a maple tree, and then add to that those who haven’t heard of an oak tree, then you get 10% combined? It’s hard to say.
What isn’t hard to say is the name of the organisation who hired Bad PR regulars OnePoll to tell us all we’re arborarily ignorant?
A spokesperson for Sky Rainforest Rescue, which commissioned the research, said: ‘Trees are a central part of our history and our culture in Britain.
‘We are surrounded by trees, whether it’s a few dotted along the street outside our home or all around us when we take long walks in the countryside.
‘But while not all of us can be experts when it comes to trees, it seems there are some people who aren’t familiar with even the most common trees.
This story puts me in something of a tricky position: on the one hand, I don’t usually like to criticise a charity – it’s a tough economic world out there, and I’m sure many charities are suffering, so perhaps it’s not the biggest crime if a charity uses an insulting PR line to grab attention.
On the other hand, I do like to criticise Sky, and I adore pointing out just how ubiquitous and pervasive the methodologically-suspect work of One Poll and 72 Point are in the news – in this case not just the Mail, but the print issue of the Telegraph too.
To see a story as suspect this actually make it onto physical paper might actually be the worst kind of waste of a tree.