Devil's Dyke beech crowned Britain's tallest native tree
A beech tree that has been competing for light in the South Downs has been named the tallest native tree in Britain.
The 144ft (44m) tree has been growing in Newtimber Woods on the National Trust's Devil's Dyke Estate in West Sussex.
The tree thought to be almost 200 years old was found to be the tallest by Owen Johnson from the Tree Register.
A 141ft (43m) beech in Gloucestershire was the previous native tree champion.
Dr Johnson said dendrologist Peter Bourne alerted him to the possibility that the Newtimber beech, which has been competing for light with a clump of rival trees, could have reached a record height.
'Very good genes'
"I didn't quite believe Peter when he said the tallest tree in the woods could be 44 metres tall as I know the South Downs so well," he added.
"When I finally got around to visiting I found my scepticism entirely unjustified.
"It's also strange and fascinating that this one beech, which must have very good genes, has managed to grow so much taller than all of its rivals in the same conditions."
The beech has been allowed to grow unmanaged for 90 years.
National Trust ranger Charlie Cain said: "This breathtaking woodland has been coppiced for a thousand years or more, which is just incredible, and it's wonderful to think that it's home to the tallest wild tree in Britain."
A 200ft (61m) Douglas fir, in Cragside, Northumberland, holds the title of the tallest non-native species in Britain.
The Tree Register holds records for 200,000 trees in Britain and Ireland.