Uhnus – Elms

The elms are a genus of fine stately landscape trees, growing well in any fertile soil, and tolerant of seaside and other exposed positions. There are several picturesque lower-growing forms, some with coloured leaves, which are particularly suitable for small gardens. Regrettably, most species and varieties must be considered to a lesser or greater extent vulnerable to the dreaded Dutch elm disease (a fungus disease spread by elm bark beetles) which in recent years has killed large quantities of the English elm ( Ulmus procera) and the Dutch elm ( U. hollandica major) in Europe, the British Isles and elsewhere. However, it is encouraging to find that varieties of the Dutch and Huntingdon elms resistant to Dutch elm disease are now available from nurserymen. It is hoped that public authorities and owners of private gardens will be encouraged to re-furnish the landscape by planting these resistant varieties, several of which are mentioned below.

Ulmus procera

U. angustifolia cornubiensis ( stricta, carpinifoliacornubiensis ) , the Cornish elm, is an excellent street tree, ultimately of large size and distinct in its conical head of upright-growing branches. It is a native of Devon and Cornwall in England and of Brittany in France.

U. glabra, the wych or Scotch elm, makes a large tree with a dome-like head of wide-spreading branches. The large coarse-toothed leaves are very rough to the touch. The fruits densely wreathing the branches in spring are particularly attractive. Unlike most other species, the wych elm does not produce sucker growth. There are two weeping forms, both suitable as lawn specimens for gardens. These are camperdownii, the Camperdown elm, a small or medium-sized tree with an umbrella-like head of weeping branches and branchlets, and pendula ( horizontal-is), the weeping wych elm, which makes a flat-topped head of stiffly pendulous spreading branches. It may also be used to form a natural arbour.

U. hollandica is a natural hybrid of wide-spreading distribution throughout Europe. A form of this hybrid, major, is the Dutch elm, a large suckering tree, very vulnerable to Dutch elm disease. However, the following resistant selections have appeared in recent years and should now be readily available from nurserymen. Bea Schwarz, a resistant selection made originally from seedlings collected in northern Europe, and Christine Buis-man, a tree of slender upright-branching habit when young, but ultimately a large tree of rounded outline.

U. sarniensis ( angustifolia x hollandica), the Jersey or Wheatley elm, is a large tree which develops a dense head of upright branches, narrower than those of the Cornish elm. It is excellent in seaside exposure. Dicksonii (wheatleyi aurea), the Dickson’s golden elm, becomes a compact-headed specimen with golden-yellow leaves. A most effective small tree for the garden.

U. vegeta ( carpinifolia x glabra), the Huntingdon or Chichester elm, is a hybrid found in the Midland counties of England. It forms a handsome, vigorous, large tree, with elliptical long pointed leaves of large size. There are two interesting disease-resistant varieties now available. Commelin is a moderately resistant variety of Dutch origin, with smaller leaves than those of the type and a narrower habit of growth, and Groenveld is a slow-growing, small or medium-sized tree of columnar habit. It is said to be very disease resistant and possibly the most appropriate of the new forms for the small garden or for street planting due to its slow rate of growth.