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Tree of the Year 2017: Which contender will you 'root' for?

These trees in Deptford, Dorking and Epping have intriguing histories. Credit: WTML/PA Wire

Members of the public are being urged to "root" for their favourite tree as new shortlists for the annual Tree of the Year competition are released

Among the contenders from across the UK are trees in Deptford, Dorking and Epping - and each one has an intriguing history.

Evelyn's Mulberry in Deptford

Evelyn's Mulberry in Deptford. Credit: Martyn Milner/WTML/PA Wire

There's a popular claim this tree was planted by Russian Czar Peter the Great around 300 years ago.

Another (more likely) theory is that Evelyn's Mulberry originated from the gardens of diarist John Evelyn, who was a friend of Samuel Pepys.

The Witch’s Broom Tree, Abinger Roughs, Dorking, Surrey

The Witch’s Broom Tree, Abinger Roughs, Dorking, Surrey. Credit: John Miller/WTML/PA Wire

Estimated to be 200-300 years old, there are two theories that suggest the reason behind the tree's quirky shape and nine-metre girth.

Some people suggest it may have been "bundle planted" - an old practice of planting several seeds or saplings together to yield many small stems for ease of harvesting.

Others say it's simple genetics.

The Gilwell Oak, Epping, Essex

The Gilwell Oak in Epping, Essex. Credit: Martyn Milner/WTML

This is the tree that inspired the scouting movement. The towering oak was adopted by Robert Baden Powell - founder of the Scouts - as an analogy for not the movement's growth worldwide and as a message to young scouts that big things are possible from modest beginnings.

Some 28 trees have been chosen from nominations for four shortlists, 10 for England and six each for Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

David McCabe’s Spruce was pulled from No Man's Land in Passchendaele as a sapling. Credit: Niall Benvie/WTML

Other contenders from outside the London area include a sapling pulled from the mud of Passchendaele in the First World War and yew trees which "bleed" or have served as pulpits for preachers.

Those lucky enough to be shortlisted are also in with a chance of winning a £1,000 care award, supported by the People's Postcode Lottery.

If you'd like to vote for your favourite tree, visit The Woodland Trust's website here. woodlandtrust.org.uk/treeoftheyear