Many people will be surprised to know that there are hundreds of mature elm trees in Britain. If you find one and would like to report it to researchers and conservationists, or are looking to see some yourself, read on.
I was contacted by a reader who had found some large elm trees (unspecified species) on his family’s land. He decided to get in touch after reading some of my recent posts about tree diseases, particularly ash dieback. This is a common request by readers, so I thought I would share what I know.
There are groups of researchers attempting to breed elms that are resistant to Dutch elm disease (Ophiostoma ulmi), and a number of helpful websites including Resistant Elms, explain more about this work. Such efforts mainly focus on species of elm trees that are more resistant to Dutch elm disease than English elm (Ulmus minor var. vulgaris). These include Huntingdon (a hybrid between small-leaved elm U. minor and wych elm U. glabra) and Wheatley (Ulmus minor subsp. sarniensis). Another is the Cornish elm (Ulmus minor subsp. angustifolia), which was featured in The New Sylva. The most well-known resistant elm in widespread commercial cultivation is the Princeton elm, a hybrid of the non-native American elm.
Healthy elm trees in Britain
The Great British Elm Search is recording mature elm trees across Britain. The organisation is building an accessible, public database that records the state of the elm population and potentially disease-resistant trees. Your help is needed to record mature elms and update the records, which are verified by a group of elm experts. So far, there are 612 entries on the map.
Check out the website, which includes an interactive map of healthy elm trees, plus a comprehensive database.
Hi Heather, your link for the Healthy Elm Map doesn’t work and I couldn’t find it online Do you have a link for it? Thank you very much!
Well done Hugh. Did you know of this scheme before, and have you added the trees you’ve found to the site I wonder?
I have found mature Wych Elm and Smooth-leaved Elm at several sites in eastern England and East Anglia. I collect seeds and propagate them. The resulting plants won’t all be resistant, but some will and I get them into new woodland planting schemes where possible.
The same should apply to Ash. Propagate from healthy trees and get them back into the countryside. But the law will have to change first.