Word of the Day: Coppice

Coppice in a field of colza

A coppice (also known as a copse) is a thicket of small trees and shrubs, typically those whose slender trunks and branches (or withies) are cut periodically for a variety of uses.  The word also refers to a tree’s ability to regrow shoots from a cut main trunk.  Some trees, such as willow, chestnut, oak, hornbeam, hazel and linden coppice better than others and have been widely cultivated for this purpose.

Coppiced alder with one year's regrowth
A coppiced alder, showing one year’s regrowth. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Coppicing is a very, very old method of tree management that has its roots (so to speak) far back in prehistory, in many parts of the world.  Coppicing is an important resource for the so-called woodland industries.  These are cottage industries that rely on the fast-growing smallwood coppices, such as: charcoal-making, basket-weaving, thatching, fuelwood, and many others.

The practice is alive and well today, though not as commercially important as in former times.

Redwood coppice, Sequoia Park, Eureka California
A redwood coppice in Sequoia Park, Eureka, California.

Featured photo: a coppice in a field of rape (Brassica napus), Poland.  Courtesy of Shutterstock.

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