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Old fruit trees

Young, green apple Photo: Naturefund

Orchards with high-stemmed, gnarled fruit trees, peppered with daisies, bellflowers, wild marjoram and many other kinds of plants used to be a widespread and integral part of our cultural landscape. 

Detail: Fruit orchard near Limburg

Old fruit trees

Today, orchards with their large, old population of fruit trees, is classified, as per the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, as highly endangered biotopes. Due to their small commercial importance, they have been replaced for fruit production by intensively cultivated plantations with slow-growing and rapidly exchangeable fruit trees.

In many regions the typical belt of orchards around villages disappear due to the designation of new housing estates and the more intensive agricultural use of land. In the process, many rare and protected animals, such as great spotted woodpecker, little owl and various kinds of bats, which found their home in the gnarled, cavernous trees, lost their habitat.

Up to 1.000 types of insects in a tree

Each and every old fruit tree provides habitat for rare species. On a single fruit tree live up to 1.000 types of insects! The occurrence of microorganisms, insects and plants are the basis for a large symbiotic community: insects are attracted to the fruit trees' blossoms, but find food all year round. For many kinds of birds and mammals the insects, in turn, offer nutrition.

Bats and owls live in tree hollows

The little owl breeds preferably in hollows in the trunks of old fruit trees. Bats are also partial to them as summer quarters. On our fruit orchard you can find next to apple and pear trees elderberry shrubs as well as grasses and various other plants.

Every orchard is a small biotope. Their relative natural state makes them the ideal habitat for small mammals, insects, birds and plants. By now, many of them are reliant on the habitat „fruit orchard“.

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