East Coker, Somerset, UK.
Elm cultivars, hybrids and hybrid cultivars
Elm synonyms and accepted names
Elms are deciduous and semi-deciduous trees comprising the flowering
plant genus Ulmus in the plant family Ulmaceae. The genus first
appeared in the
Miocene geological period about 20 million years ago,
originating in what is now central Asia. These trees flourished and
spread over most of the Northern Hemisphere, inhabiting the temperate
and tropical-montane regions of
North America and Eurasia, presently
ranging southward across the Equator into Indonesia.
Elms are components of many kinds of natural forests. Moreover, during
the 19th and early 20th centuries many species and cultivars were also
planted as ornamental street, garden, and park trees in Europe, North
America, and parts of the Southern Hemisphere, notably Australasia.
Some individual elms reached great size and age. However, in recent
decades, most mature elms of European or North American origin have
died from Dutch elm disease, caused by a microfungus dispersed by bark
beetles. In response, disease-resistant cultivars have been developed,
capable of restoring the elm to forestry and landscaping.
3 Pests and diseases
3.1 Dutch elm disease
Elm phloem necrosis
3.5 Development of trees resistant to Dutch elm disease
Species and species cultivars
3.5.2 Hybrid cultivars
3.5.3 Cautions regarding novel cultivars
4 Uses of elms in landscaping
5 Other uses of elms
5.3 Medicinal products
5.7 Alternative medicine
6 Genetic resource conservation
7 Notable elm trees
8 The elm in art
9 The elm in mythology and literature
10 The elm in politics
11 The elm in local history and place names
12 The propagation of elms
13 Organisms associated with elm
14 See also
17 Further reading
18 External links
Main articles: List of
List of Elm species and varieties
by common name; List of
Elm cultivars, hybrids and hybrid cultivars;
and List of
Elm synonyms and accepted names
There are about 30 to 40 species of Ulmus (elm); the ambiguity in
number results from difficulty in delineating species, owing to the
ease of hybridization between them and the development of local
seed-sterile vegetatively propagated microspecies in some areas,
mainly in the field elm (Ulmus minor) group. Oliver Rackham
describes Ulmus as the most critical genus in the entire British
flora, adding that 'species and varieties are a distinction in the
human mind rather than a measured degree of genetic variation'. Eight
species are endemic to North America, and a smaller number to
Europe; the greatest diversity is found in Asia.
The classification adopted in the List of elm species, varieties,
cultivars and hybrids is largely based on that established by
Brummitt. A large number of synonyms have accumulated over the last
three centuries; their currently accepted names can be found in the
list List of elm Synonyms and Accepted Names.
Botanists who study elms and argue over elm identification and
classification are called pteleologists, from the Greek πτελέα
As part of the sub-order urticalean rosids they are distant cousins of
cannabis, hops, and nettles.
The name Ulmus is the Latin name for these trees, while the English
"elm" and many other European names are either cognate with or derived
The genus is hermaphroditic, having apetalous perfect flowers which
Elm leaves are alternate, with simple, single-
or, most commonly, doubly serrate margins, usually asymmetric at the
base and acuminate at the apex. The fruit is a round wind-dispersed
samara flushed with chlorophyll, facilitating photosynthesis before
the leaves emerge. All species are tolerant of a wide range of
soils and pH levels but, with few exceptions, demand good drainage.
The elm tree can grow to great height, often with a split trunk
creating a vase-shape profile.
'Sapporo Autumn Gold', Antella, Florence
Wych elm (Ulmus glabra) leaves and seeds
Asymmetry of leaf, Slippery
Elm U. rubra
Mature bark, Slippery
Elm U. rubra
Flowers of the hybrid elm cultivar 'Columella'
Corky wings, Winged
Elm U. alata
U. laciniata samara
U. americana, Dufferin St., Toronto, c. 1914
Pests and diseases
Main article: List of elm diseases
Dutch elm disease
Main article: Dutch elm disease
Dutch elm disease
Dutch elm disease (DED) devastated elms throughout
Europe and much of
North America in the second half of the 20th century. It derives its
name 'Dutch' from the first description of the disease and its cause
in the 1920s by the Dutch botanists Bea Schwarz and Christina Johanna
Buisman. Owing to its geographical isolation and effective quarantine
Australia has so far remained unaffected by Dutch Elm
Disease, as have the provinces of
British Columbia in
DED is caused by a micro-fungus transmitted by two species of Scolytus
elm-bark beetle which act as vectors. The disease affects all species
of elm native to
North America and Europe, but many Asiatic species
have evolved anti-fungal genes and are resistant. Fungal spores,
introduced into wounds in the tree caused by the beetles, invade the
xylem or vascular system. The tree responds by producing tyloses,
effectively blocking the flow from roots to leaves. Woodland trees in
North America are not quite as susceptible to the disease because they
usually lack the root-grafting of the urban elms and are somewhat more
isolated from each other. In France, inoculation with the fungus of
over three hundred clones of the European species failed to find a
single variety possessed of any significant resistance.
The first, less aggressive strain of the disease fungus, Ophiostoma
ulmi, arrived in
Europe from the Far East in 1910, and was
accidentally introduced to
North America in 1928, but was steadily
weakened by viruses and had all but disappeared in
Europe by the
1940s. The second, far more virulent strain of the disease Ophiostoma
novo-ulmi was identified in
Europe in the late 1960s, and within a
decade had killed over 20 million trees (approximately 75%) in the UK
alone. Approximately three times more deadly, the new strain arrived
Europe from the US on a cargo of Rock Elm; the hypothesis that it
arose from a hybrid between the original O. ulmi and another strain
endemic to the Himalaya,
Ophiostoma himal-ulmi is now discredited.
There is no sign of the current pandemic waning, and no evidence of a
susceptibility of the fungus to a disease of its own caused by
d-factors: naturally occurring virus-like agents that severely
debilitated the original O. ulmi and reduced its sporulation.
Elm phloem necrosis
Elm phloem necrosis (elm yellows) is a disease of elm trees that is
spread by leafhoppers or by root grafts. This very aggressive
disease, with no known cure, occurs in the Eastern United States,
Ontario in Canada, and Europe. It is caused by phytoplasmas
which infect the phloem (inner bark) of the tree. Infection and
death of the phloem effectively girdles the tree and stops the flow of
water and nutrients. The disease affects both wild-growing and
cultivated trees. Occasionally, cutting the infected tree before the
disease completely establishes itself and cleanup and prompt disposal
of infected matter has resulted in the plant's survival via
Most serious of the elm pests is the elm leaf beetle Xanthogaleruca
luteola, which can decimate foliage, although rarely with fatal
results. The beetle was accidentally introduced to
North America from
Europe. Another unwelcome immigrant to
North America is the Japanese
beetle Popillia japonica. In both instances the beetles cause far more
North America owing to the absence of the predators present
in their native lands. In Australia, introduced elm trees are
sometimes used as foodplants by the larvae of hepialid moths of the
genus Aenetus. These burrow horizontally into the trunk then
Sapsucker woodpeckers have a great love of young elm trees.
Development of trees resistant to Dutch elm disease
See also: List of
Elm cultivars, hybrids and hybrid cultivars
Efforts to develop resistant cultivars began in the Netherlands in
1928 and continued, uninterrupted by World War II, until 1992.
Similar programmes were initiated in
North America (1937), Italy
(1978), and Spain (1986). Research has followed two paths:
Species and species cultivars
In North America, careful selection has produced a number of trees
resistant not only to disease, but also to the droughts and extremely
cold winters afflicting the continent. Research in the US has
concentrated on the
American Elm U. americana, resulting in the
release of highly resistant clones, notably the cultivars 'Valley
Forge' and 'Jefferson'. Much work has also been done into the
selection of disease-resistant Asiatic species and cultivars.
In Europe, the European White
Ulmus laevis has received much
attention. Whilst this elm has little innate resistance to Dutch elm
disease, it is not favoured by the vector bark beetles and thus only
becomes colonized and infected when there are no other choices, a rare
situation in western Europe. Research in Spain has suggested that it
may be the presence of a triterpene, alnulin, which makes the tree
bark unattractive to the beetle species that spread the disease.
However this possibility has not been conclusively proven. More
recently, Field Elms
Ulmus minor highly resistant to DED have been
discovered in Spain, and form the basis of a major breeding
Owing to their innate resistance to Dutch elm disease, Asiatic species
have been crossed with European species, or with other Asiatic elms,
to produce trees which are both highly resistant to disease and
tolerant of native climates. After a number of false dawns in the
1970s, this approach has produced a range of reliable hybrid cultivars
now commercially available in
North America and
However, some of these cultivars, notably those with the Siberian Elm
U. pumila in their ancestry, lack the forms for which the iconic
American Elm and
English Elm were prized. Moreover, several exported
Europe have proven unsuited to the maritime climate
conditions there, notably because of their intolerance of anoxic
conditions resulting from ponding on poorly drained soils in winter.
Dutch hybridizations invariably included the Himalayan
wallichiana as a source of anti-fungal genes and have proven more
tolerant of wet ground; they should also ultimately reach a greater
size. However, the susceptibility of the cultivar 'Lobel', used as a
control in Italian trials, to elm yellows has now (2014) raised a
question mark over all the Dutch clones.
A number of highly resistant Ulmus cultivars has been released since
2000 by the Institute of
Plant Protection in Florence, most commonly
featuring crosses of the Dutch cultivar 'Plantijn' with the Siberian
Elm to produce resistant trees better adapted to the Mediterranean
Cautions regarding novel cultivars
Elms take many decades to grow to maturity, and as the introduction of
these disease-resistant cultivars is relatively recent, their
long-term performance and ultimate size and form cannot be predicted
with certainty. The
National Elm Trial in North America, begun in
2005, is a nationwide trial to assess strengths and weaknesses of the
19 leading cultivars raised in the US over a ten-year period; European
cultivars have been excluded. Meanwhile, in Europe, American and
European cultivars are being assessed in field trials started in 2000
by the UK charity Butterfly Conservation.
The ball-headed graft narvan elm,
Ulmus minor 'Umbraculifera',
cultivated in Persia and widely planted in central Asia.
Lafayette Street, Salem, Massachusetts: an example of the
'high-tunnelled effects' of
Ulmus americana avenues once common in New
Uses of elms in landscaping
Camperdown elm (Ulmus 'Camperdown'), cultivated in Prospect Park,
Brooklyn, New York
An avenue of elm trees in Fitzroy Gardens, Melbourne
One of the earliest of ornamental elms was the ball-headed graft
Ulmus minor 'Umbraculifera', cultivated from time
immemorial in Persia as a shade tree and widely planted in cities
through much of south-west and central Asia. From the 18th century to
the early 20th century, elms, whether species, hybrids or cultivars,
were among the most widely planted ornamental trees in both
North America. They were particularly popular as a street tree in
avenue plantings in towns and cities, creating high-tunnelled effects.
Their quick growth and variety of foliage and forms, their
tolerance of air-pollution and the comparatively rapid decomposition
of their leaf-litter in the fall were further advantages. In North
America, the species most commonly planted was the American elm (Ulmus
americana), which had unique properties that made it ideal for such
use: rapid growth, adaptation to a broad range of climates and soils,
strong wood, resistance to wind damage, and vase-like growth habit
requiring minimal pruning. In Europe, the wych elm (Ulmus glabra) and
Field Elm (Ulmus minor) were the most widely planted in the
countryside, the former in northern areas including
northern Britain, the latter further south. The hybrid between these
two, Dutch elm (U. × hollandica), occurs naturally and was also
commonly planted. In much of England, it was the
English Elm which
later came to dominate the horticultural landscape. Most commonly
planted in hedgerows, it sometimes occurred in densities of over 1000
per square kilometre. In south-eastern
Australia and New Zealand,
large numbers of English and Dutch elms, as well as other species and
cultivars, were planted as ornamentals following their introduction in
the 19th century, while in northern Japan Japanese
davidiana var. japonica) was widely planted as a street tree. From
about 1850 to 1920, the most prized small ornamental elm in parks and
gardens was the Camperdown elm (
Ulmus glabra 'Camperdownii'), a
contorted weeping cultivar of the
Wych Elm grafted on to a non-weeping
elm trunk to give a wide, spreading and weeping fountain shape in
large garden spaces.
Europe elms were, moreover, among the few trees tolerant
of saline deposits from sea spray, which can cause "salt-burning" and
die-back. This tolerance made elms reliable both as shelterbelt trees
exposed to sea wind, in particular along the coastlines of southern
and western Britain and in the Low Countries, and as trees for
coastal towns and cities.
This belle époque lasted until the First World War, when as a
consequence of hostilities, notably in
Germany whence at least 40
cultivars originated, and of the outbreak at about the same time of
the early strain of Dutch elm disease, Ophiostoma ulmi, the elm began
its slide into horticultural decline. The devastation caused by the
Second World War, and the demise in 1944 of the huge
Späth nursery in
Berlin, only accelerated the process. The outbreak of the new, three
times more virulent, strain of
Dutch elm disease
Dutch elm disease Ophiostoma novo-ulmi
in the late 1960s brought the tree to its nadir.
Since circa 1990 the elm has enjoyed a renaissance through the
successful development in
North America and
Europe of cultivars highly
resistant to the new disease. Consequently, the total number of
named cultivars, ancient and modern, now exceeds 300, although many of
the older clones, possibly over 120, have been lost to cultivation.
Some of the latter, however, were by today's standards inadequately
described or illustrated before the pandemic, and it is possible that
a number survive, or have regenerated, unrecognised. Enthusiasm for
the newer clones often remains low owing to the poor performance of
earlier, supposedly disease-resistant Dutch trees released in the
1960s and 1970s. In the Netherlands, sales of elm cultivars slumped
from over 56,000 in 1989 to just 6,800 in 2004, whilst in the UK,
only four of the new American and European releases were commercially
available in 2008.
Other uses of elms
Elm in boat-building: John Constable, Boat-building near Flatford
Mill, 1815 (landscape with hybrid elms Ulmus × hollandica)
English longbow of elm
Elm wood is valued for its interlocking grain, and consequent
resistance to splitting, with significant uses in wagon wheel hubs,
chair seats and coffins. The bodies of Japanese
Taiko drums are often
cut from the wood of old elm trees, as the wood's resistance to
splitting is highly desired for nailing the skins to them, and a set
of three or more is often cut from the same tree. The elm's wood bends
well and distorts easily making it quite pliant. The often long,
straight, trunks were favoured as a source of timber for keels in ship
Elm is also prized by bowyers; of the ancient bows found
in Europe, a large portion are elm. During the
Middle Ages elm was
also used to make longbows if yew was unavailable.
The first written references to elm occur in the
Linear B lists of
military equipment at
Knossos in the Mycenaean Period. Several of the
chariots are of elm (" πτε-ρε-ϝα ", pte-re-wa), and the lists
twice mention wheels of elmwood.
Hesiod says that ploughs in
Ancient Greece were also made partly of elm.
The density of elm wood varies between species, but averages around
560 kg per cubic metre.
Elm wood is also resistant to decay when permanently wet, and hollowed
trunks were widely used as water pipes during the medieval period in
Elm was also used as piers in the construction of the original
London Bridge. However this resistance to decay in water does not
extend to ground contact.
The Romans, and more recently the Italians, used to plant elms in
vineyards as supports for vines. Lopped at three metres, the elms'
quick growth, twiggy lateral branches, light shade and root-suckering
made them ideal trees for this purpose. The lopped branches were used
for fodder and firewood.
Ovid in his Amores characterizes the elm
as "loving the vine": ulmus amat vitem, vitis non deserit ulmum (:the
elm loves the vine, the vine does not desert the elm), and the
ancients spoke of the "marriage" between elm and vine.
The mucilaginous inner bark of the Slippery
Ulmus rubra has long
been used as a demulcent, and is still produced commercially for this
purpose in the United States with approval for sale as a nutritional
supplement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Elms also have a long history of cultivation for fodder, with the
leafy branches cut to feed livestock. The practice continues today in
the Himalaya, where it contributes to serious deforestation.
As fossil fuel resources diminish, increasing attention is being paid
to trees as sources of energy. In Italy, the Istituto per la
Protezione delle Piante is (2012) in the process of releasing to
commerce very fast-growing elm cultivars, able to increase in height
by more than 2 m (6 ft) per annum.
Elm bark, cut into strips and boiled, sustained much of the rural
Norway during the great famine of 1812. The seeds are
particularly nutritious, containing 45% crude protein, and less than
7% fibre by dry mass.
Internal mill-wheel of elm, De Hoop mill, Oldebroek, Netherlands
Elm has been listed as one of the 38 substances that are used to
prepare Bach flower remedies, a kind of alternative medicine.
Ulmus parvifolia bonsai
Ulmus parvifolia is a popular choice for bonsai owing to
its tolerance of severe pruning.
Genetic resource conservation
In 1997, a
European Union elm project was initiated, its aim to
coordinate the conservation of all the elm genetic resources of the
member states and, among other things, to assess their resistance to
Dutch elm disease. Accordingly, over 300 clones were selected and
propagated for testing.
Notable elm trees
Main article: List of notable elm trees
Many elm (Ulmus) trees of various kinds have attained great size or
otherwise become particularly noteworthy.
The elm in art
Many artists have admired elms for the ease and grace of their
branching and foliage, and have painted them with sensitivity. Elms
are a recurring element in the landscapes and studies of, for example,
John Constable, Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, Frederick Childe Hassam,
Karel Klinkenberg, and George Inness.
John Constable, 'Study of an
Elm Tree' 
John Constable, 'The Cornfield'  (Ulmus × hollandica)
Constable, 'Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop's Garden' [1823
version] (Ulmus × hollandica)
Jacob George Strutt, Elms at Mongewell, Oxfordshire  (Ulmus
Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, 'Alte Ulmen im Prater' (:Old Elms in
James Duffield Harding, 'The Great Exhibition of 1851' (Ulmus minor
Arthur Hughes, 'Home from Sea'  (
Ulmus minor 'Atinia' )
Ford Madox Brown, 'Work'  (
Ulmus minor 'Atinia' )
[unknown artist] The
American Elm  (Ulmus americana)
Johannes Karel Christiaan Klinkenberg, 'Amsterdam'  (Ulmus x
hollandica ‘Belgica' )
Frederick Childe Hassam, 'Champs Elysées, Paris'  (Ulmus ×
hollandica, 'orme femelle')
Frederick Childe Hassam, 'Washington Arch, Spring'  (Ulmus
Frederick Childe Hassam, 'Church at Old Lyme'  (Ulmus americana)
Frederick Childe Hassam, 'The East Hampton Elms in May'  (Ulmus
George Inness, 'Old
Elm at Medfield' (Ulmus americana)
Unknown artist, 'The Cam near Trinity College, Cambridge', England
The elm in mythology and literature
Achilles and Scamander
In Greek mythology the nymph Ptelea (Πτελέα, Elm) was one of the
eight Hamadryads, nymphs of the forest and daughters of Oxylos and
Hamadryas. In his Hymn to
Artemis the poet
century BC) tells how, at the age of three, the infant goddess Artemis
practised her newly acquired silver bow and arrows, made for her by
Hephaestus and the Cyclopes, by shooting first at an elm, then at an
oak, before turning her aim on a wild animal:
πρῶτον ἐπὶ πτελέην, τὸ δὲ δεύτερον
ἧκας ἐπὶ δρῦν, τὸ τρίτον αὖτ᾽ ἐπὶ
The first reference in literature to elms occurs in the Iliad. When
Eetion, father of Andromache, is killed by
Achilles during the Trojan
War, the Mountain Nymphs plant elms on his tomb ("περὶ δὲ
πτελέoι εφύτεψαν νύμφαι ὀρεστιάδες,
κoῦραι Διὸς αἰγιόχoιo"). Also in the Iliad,
when the River Scamander, indignant at the sight of so many corpses in
his water, overflows and threatens to drown Achilles, the latter
grasps a branch of a great elm in an attempt to save himself ("ὁ
δὲ πτελέην ἕλε χερσὶν εὐφυέα
The Nymphs also planted elms on the tomb in the
Thracian Chersonese of
"great-hearted Protesilaus" ("μεγάθυμου
Πρωτεσιλάου"), the first Greek to fall in the Trojan War.
These elms grew to be the tallest in the known world; but when their
topmost branches saw far off the ruins of Troy, they immediately
withered, so great still was the bitterness of the hero buried below,
who had been loved by
Laodamia and slain by Hector. The
story is the subject of a poem by
Antiphilus of Byzantium (1st century
AD) in the Palatine Anthology:
Θεσσαλὲ Πρωτεσίλαε, σὲ μὲν πολὺς
Tρoίᾳ ὀφειλoμένoυ πτώματος ἀρξάμενoν•
σᾶμα δὲ τοι πτελέῃσι συνηρεφὲς
Nύμφαι, ἀπεχθoμένης Ἰλίoυ ἀντιπέρας.
Δένδρα δὲ δυσμήνιτα, καὶ ἤν ποτε
Tρώϊον, αὐαλέην φυλλοχoεῦντι κόμην.
ὅσσoς ἐν ἡρώεσσι τότ᾽ ἦν χόλoς, oὗ
ἐχθρὸν ἐν ἀψύχoις σώζεται
[:Thessalian Protesilaos, a long age shall sing your praises,
Of the destined dead at Troy the first;
Your tomb with thick-foliaged elms they covered,
The nymphs, across the water from hated Ilion.
Trees full of anger; and whenever that wall they see,
Of Troy, the leaves in their upper crown wither and fall.
So great in the heroes was the bitterness then, some of which still
Remembers, hostile, in the soulless upper branches.]
Protesilaus had been king of
Pteleos (Πτελεός) in Thessaly,
which took its name from the abundant elms (πτελέoι) in the
Elms occur often in
Pastoral Poetry, where they symbolise the idyllic
life, their shade being mentioned as a place of special coolness and
peace. In the first Idyll of
Theocritus (3rd century BC), for example,
the goat-herd invites the shepherd to sit "here beneath the elm"
("δεῦρ' ὑπὸ τὰν πτελέαν") and sing. Beside elms
Theocritus places "the sacred water" ("το ἱερὸν ὕδωρ")
of the Springs of the Nymphs and the shrines to the nymphs.
The Sibyl and Aeneas
Aside from references literal and metaphorical to the elm and vine
theme, the tree occurs in Latin literature in the
Elm of Dreams in the
Aeneid. When the Sibyl of Cumae leads
Aeneas down to the
Underworld, one of the sights is the Stygian Elm:
In medio ramos annosaque bracchia pandit
ulmus opaca, ingens, quam sedem somnia vulgo
uana tenere ferunt, foliisque sub omnibus haerent.
[:Spreads in the midst her boughs and agéd arms
an elm, huge, shadowy, where vain dreams, 'tis said,
are wont to roost them, under every leaf close-clinging.]
Virgil refers to a Roman superstition (vulgo) that elms were trees of
ill-omen because their fruit seemed to be of no value. It has been
noted that two elm-motifs have arisen from classical literature:
(1) the 'Paradisal Elm' motif, arising from pastoral idylls and the
elm-and-vine theme, and (2) the '
Elm and Death' motif, perhaps arising
from Homer's commemorative elms and Virgil's Stygian Elm. Many
references to elm in European literature from the Renaissance onwards
fit into one or other of these categories.
There are two examples of pteleogenesis (:birth from elms) in world
myths. In Germanic and Scandinavian mythology the first woman, Embla,
was fashioned from an elm, while in Japanese mythology Kamuy
Fuchi, the chief goddess of the Ainu people, "was born from an elm
impregnated by the Possessor of the Heavens".
Under the elm, Brighton, 2006
The elm occurs frequently in English literature, one of the best known
instances being in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, where
Titania, Queen of the Fairies, addresses her beloved Nick Bottom using
an elm-simile. Here, as often in the elm-and-vine motif, the elm is a
Sleep thou, and I will wind thee in my arms.
... the female Ivy so
Enrings the barky fingers of the Elm.
O, how I love thee! how I dote on thee!
Another of the most famous kisses in English literature, that of Paul
and Helen at the start of Forster's Howards End, is stolen beneath a
great wych elm.
Tree is also referenced in children's literature. An
and Three Sisters by Norma Sommerdorf is a children's book about three
young sisters that plant a small elm tree in their backyard. 
The elm in politics
Cutting of the elm was a diplomatic altercation between the Kings
of France and England in 1188, during which an elm tree near Gisors in
Normandy was felled.
In politics the elm is associated with revolutions. In England after
Glorious Revolution of 1688, the final victory of parliamentarians
over monarchists, and the arrival from Holland, with William III and
Mary II, of the 'Dutch Elm' hybrid, planting of this cultivar became a
fashion among enthusiasts of the new political order.
American Revolution 'The Liberty Tree' was an American white
elm in Boston, Massachusetts, in front of which, from 1765, the first
resistance meetings were held against British attempts to tax the
American colonists without democratic representation. When the
British, knowing that the tree was a symbol of rebellion, felled it in
1775, the Americans took to widespread 'Liberty Elm' planting, and
sewed elm symbols on to their revolutionary flags.
Elm-planting by American Presidents later became something of a
In the French Revolution, too, Les arbres de la liberté (:Liberty
Trees), often elms, were planted as symbols of revolutionary hopes,
the first in Vienne, Isère, in 1790, by a priest inspired by the
Boston elm. L'Orme de La Madeleine (:the
Elm of La Madeleine),
Faycelles, Département de Lot, planted around 1790 and surviving to
this day, was a case in point. By contrast, a famous Parisian elm
associated with the Ancien Régime, L'Orme de Saint-Gervais in the
Place St-Gervais, was felled by the revolutionaries; church
authorities planted a new elm in its place in 1846, and an early
20th-century elm stands on the site today. Premier Lionel Jospin,
obliged by tradition to plant a tree in the garden of the Hôtel
Matignon, the official residence and workplace of Prime Ministers of
France, insisted on planting an elm, so-called 'tree of the Left',
choosing the new disease-resistant hybrid 'Clone 762' (Ulmus 'Wanoux'
= Vada). In the French Republican Calendar, in use from 1792 to
1806, the 12th day of the month
Ventôse (= 2 March) was officially
named "jour de l'Orme", Day of the Elm.
Liberty Elms were also planted in other countries in
celebrate their revolutions, an example being L'Olmo di Montepaone,
L'Albero della Libertà (:the
Elm of Montepaone, Liberty Tree) in
Montepaone, Calabria, planted in 1799 to commemorate the founding of
the democratic Parthenopean Republic, and surviving till it was
brought down by a recent storm (it has since been cloned and
'replanted'). After the
Greek Revolution of 1821-32, a thousand
young elms were brought to Athens from Missolonghi, "Sacred City of
the Struggle" against the Turks and scene of Lord Byron's death, and
planted in 1839-40 in the National Garden. In an ironic
development, feral elms have spread and invaded the grounds of the
abandoned Greek royal summer palace at
Tatoi in Attica.
Planting a Liberty
Tree (un arbre de la liberté) during the French
Revolution. Jean-Baptiste Lesueur, 1790
Balcony with elm symbol, overlooking the 'Crossroads of the Elm',
Place Saint-Gervais, Paris
President George W. Bush and Laura Bush planting a disease-resistant
Elm before the White House, 2006
Elm suckers spreading before the abandoned summer royal palace in
Tatoi, Greece, Μarch 2008
The elm in local history and place names
The name of what is now the London neighborhood of Seven Sisters is
derived from seven elms which stood there at the time when it was a
rural area, planted a circle with a walnut tree at their centre, and
traceable on maps back to 1619.
The propagation of elms
A rooted cutting of European White
Elm propagation methods vary according to elm type and location, and
the plantsman's needs. Native species may be propagated by seed. In
their natural setting native species, such as wych elm and European
Elm in central and northern
Field Elm in southern
Europe, set viable seed in ‘favourable' seasons. Optimal conditions
occur after a late warm spring. After pollination, seeds of
spring-flowering elms ripen and fall at the start of summer (June);
they remain viable for only a few days. They are planted in sandy
potting-soil at a depth of one centimetre, and germinate in three
American Elm will remain dormant until the
second season. Seeds from autumn-flowering elms ripen in the Fall
and germinate in the spring. Since elms may hybridize within and
between species, seed-propagation entails a hybridisation risk. In
unfavourable seasons elm seeds are usually sterile. Elms outside their
natural range, such as
Ulmus procera in England, and elms unable to
pollinate because pollen-sources are genetically identical, are
sterile and are propagated by vegetative reproduction. Vegetative
reproduction is also used to produce genetically identical elms
(clones). Methods include the winter transplanting of root-suckers;
taking hardwood cuttings from vigorous one-year-old shoots in late
winter, taking root-cuttings in early spring; taking softwood
cuttings in early summer; grafting; ground and air layering; and
micropropagation. A bottom heat of 18 degrees and humid conditions
are maintained for hard- and softwood cuttings. The transplanting of
root-suckers remains the easiest and commonest propagation-method for
Field Elm and its hybrids. For 'specimen' urban elms,
grafting to wych-elm root-stock may be used to eliminate suckering or
to ensure stronger root-growth. The mutant-elm cultivars are usually
grafted, the ‘weeping' elms 'Camperdown' and 'Horizontalis' at
2–3 m (6 ft 7 in–9 ft 10 in), the dwarf
cultivars 'Nana' and 'Jacqueline Hillier' at ground level. Since the
Siberian Elm is drought-tolerant, in dry countries new varieties of
elm are often root-grafted on this species.
Ripe seeds of Field Elm
Rock elm Ulmus thomasii germinating
Seedling of wych elm
Ulmus glabra (photograph: Mihailo Grbić)
Root-suckers spreading from
Field Elm Ulmus minor
Root cuttings of
Ulmus 'Dodoens' (photograph: Mihailo Grbić)
Rooted hardwood elm-cutting (photograph: Mihailo Grbić)
Rooting of softwood elm-cuttings under mist-propagation system
(photograph: Mihailo Grbić)
Mutant variegated Smooth-leafed
Elm graft (photograph: Mihailo Grbić)
Air layering of U. pumila (photograph: Mihailo Grbić)
Organisms associated with elm
'Pouch' leaf-galls on a wych elm (aphid Tetraneura ulmi), Germany.
'Pouch' leaf-gall on elm leaf (aphid Tetraneura ulmi), Netherlands.
'Cockscomb' leaf-galls (aphid Colopha compressa), Poland.
'Bladder' leaf-galls on elm leaves (aphid Eriosoma lanuginosum),
'Bladder' leaf-galls on a narrow-leaved elm (aphid Eriosoma
Aphids in leaf-gall, Poland.
'Pimple' leaf-galls on a field elm (mite Eriophyes ulmi), Spain.
White-letter Hairstreak Satyrium w-album, on Lutece, Sweden. The
larvae feed only on elm.
Satyrium w-album near flower-bud of an elm.
Elm-bark beetle Scolytus multistriatus (size: 2–3 mm), a vector
Scolytus multistriatus 'galleries' under elm-bark.
Elm-leaf beetle Xanthogaleruca luteola, which causes serious damage to
Xanthogaleruca luteola: caterpillar on elm-leaf, Germany.
Elm-leaf damage caused by Xanthogaleruca luteola, Germany.
Bacterial infection Erwinia carotovora of elm sap, which causes 'slime
flux' ('wetwood') and staining of the trunk (here on a Camperdown
Elm cultivars, hybrids and hybrid cultivars
List of Elm species and varieties by scientific name
List of Lepidoptera that feed on elms
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^ Ο μοναδικός Εθνικός μας Κήπος,
^ Νίκος Μπελαβίλας, ΜΥΘΟΙ ΚΑΙ
ΠΡΑΓΜΑΤΙΚΟΤΗΤΕΣ ΓΙΑ ΤΟ ΜΗΤΡΟΠΟΛΙΤΙΚΟ
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ISBN 0-521-24916-3 A scientific, historical and cultural
study, with a thesis on elm-classification, followed by a systematic
survey of elms in England, region by region. Illustrated.
Heybroek, H. M., Goudzwaard, L, Kaljee, H. (2009). Iep of olm,
karakterboom van de Lage Landen (:Elm, a tree with character of the
Low Countries). KNNV, Uitgeverij. ISBN 9789050112819. A history
of elm planting in the Netherlands, concluding with a 40 – page
illustrated review of all the DED – resistant cultivars in commerce
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Dutch elm disease and proposals for re-landscaping in the
aftermath of the pandemic. Illustrated.
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Wilkinson, G. (1978). Epitaph for the Elm. London: Hutchinson.
ISBN 0-09-921280-3 A photographic and pictorial celebration
and general introduction.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ulmus.
Elm trials". Northern Arizona University.
Ulmaceae Diagnostic photos of
Elm species at the Morton
"Late 19th and early 20th-century photos of
Elm species in Elwes &
Henry's Trees of
Great Britain & Ireland, v. 7" (PDF). 1913.
Elm Photo Gallery".
Eichhorn, Markus (May 2010). "
Elm – The
Tree of Death". Test Tube.
Brady Haran for the University of Nottingham.
Texts on Wikisource:
Ripley, George; Dana, Charles A., eds. (1879). "Elm". The American
"Elm". New International Encyclopedia. 1905.
"Elm". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). 1911.
"Elm". Encyclopedia Americana. 1920.
"Elm". Collier's New Encyclopedia. 1921.
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