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The Elm

UK Garden Centre trees - Information on the Elm tree

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Family Ulmaceae
Ulmus

There are four species of Elm commonly met with in England. The Wych Elm (Ulmus glabra), the smooth-leaved Elm (U. carpinfolia), the Plots’ Elm (U. Platii) and the English Elm (U. procera). In addition there is the Cornish Elm (Ulmus stricta) confines to Devon and Cornwall, and hybrids such as the Dutch Elm (Ulmus hollandica), and the Huntingdon Elm (Ulmus vegeta). It has been accepted generally that the English Elm had been introduced by the Romans; but it proves to be unknown as a wild tree except in England.
The Wych Elm is also known as Mountain Elm, Scots Elm and Witch Hazel, under the Latin name montana.
Although the Wych Elm is found at an elevation of 1,300 feet in Yorkshire, and the English Elm at 1,500 feet in Derbyshire, they are distinctly trees of the lowlands and valleys.
The Wych Elm forms a trunk of large size, from eighty to one hundred and twenty feet or more in height, with a girth of fifty feet, and covered with rough bark. Its long slender branches spread widely with a downward tendency, the downy twigs bearing their leaves in a straight row along each side.
The leaves are somewhat oval in general form, but the two sides of the midrib are unequal in size and shape. Their edges are toothed, and the surfaces are rough and harsh to the touch. The hairs that cover the strong ribs on the under surface serve to protect the breathing pores from the dust. On leaves of the pendulous form of this tree when grown in city parks and gardens these hairs will often be found to be quite black with the soot particles gathered from the air. Trees need carbon, but in a gross form they are often suffocated by it.
The dark red flowers are produced in bunches, in February or March, from the sides of the branches. They are a quarter of an inch long, bell-shaped, their edges cut into lobes, and finely fringed. The ovary, with its two styles, is surrounded by four or five stamens with purple anthers. They appear before the leaf-buds have opened, and are dependent on the wind for the transfer of pollen.
The fruit is an oblong samara, about an inch long. This consists of a single seed in the centre, invested by a thin envelope, which forms a light membranous wing, which gives it buoyancy and enables it to float through the air to a little distance. These seeds are not produced until about the thirtieth year of the tree’s life, and although they are ripened almost annually thereafter, good crops are biennial or triennial only.
The Wych Elm never or very rarely produces suckers.


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