A call for protection has gone out for a landmark tree that has stood in Horsham town centre since the 1800s.
The weeping beech - dubbed Horsham’s favourite tree - is sited near The Forum and has been partially cordoned off after suffering damage to its branches.
Without doubt the tree is a favourite for kids to climb and to swing on its enormous low and sweeping branches
But this week there were calls for the tree, thought to be between 150 and 200 years old, to be given better protection.
Councillor Christine Costin, who represents Horsham District Council on the organisation Horsham In Bloom, said: “Everyone who loves Horsham really doesn’t want to lose this tree. It is so precious.”
She said the beech - which once stood in the grounds of Lower Tanbridge School - was unusual because of its ‘weeping’ nature.
And she called on Sainsbury’s, which owns the land on which the tree stands, to look after it.
A spokesman for Horsham in Bloom took to social media to express fears. A message was posted on Facebook: “Without doubt the tree is a favourite for kids to climb and to swing on its enormous low and sweeping branches, but occasionally it’s not up to the fun antics and one of the large lower branches has split under the pressure.”
But a spokesman for Sainsbury’s said they were looking into the problem. “We’re sending out a horticulture specialist to examine the tree and surrounding area, so we can determine what works need to be carried out.”
The weeping beech - Fagus sylvatica ‘Pendula’ - is a variety of the deciduous European beech.
It is characterised by its shape with sweeping, pendulous branches.
Experts say that the stems of such trees are often not visible from a distance because of their covering weeping branches.
Branches - such as those of the Horsham tree - often reach the ground.
Smaller than the common beech, the tree can reach a height of up to 25m.