English Elm – Ulmus procera

English Elm Tree History & Facts

If teachers were wise, they would make sure that every student knows the critical importance of trees. They’d make sure their students understand that we need trees to provide us with life-giving oxygen.

Certainly, every school should have a few trees in their school grounds planted by the students. The chance for young children to grow a tree from a seed or sapling and watch it grow into such a magnificent specimen is something every child should experience.


Trees Do So Much Good for The Environment

Children need to know that trees are cleaning the air they breathe in, they’re preventing soil erosion, they’re buffering out noise, providing shade and providing a home for birds and animals.

They also bring beauty to any area, and the English Elm is appreciated for providing all these fantastic benefits, and more.


A Tree That Can Reach Great Heights

Native to Europe, North America and Asia, the Ulmus Procera is a large tree and it will require a good amount of space to spread itself. The tree belongs to the genus Ulmus and is a member of the Elm family.

When you plant an English Elm, you can be satisfied knowing that your leafy friend will be with you for about 100 years, with some examples being known to reach 400 years of age.

The exquisite elm is capable of reaching 130 feet in height and 50 feet in width. It’s an iconic tree that you often see in parks, and its bright yellow autumn foliage is a sight to behold.

The English elm was also planted a lot during the late 18th century. It became popular as a hedge species because of its habit of spreading from suckers.

Many birds and small animals enjoy the seeds and leaves of the Elm. Caterpillars of the White-letter hairstreak butterfly enjoy the Elm too and the tree is known to be the only species of tree to support the White Hair-Streak Butterfly, so they’re good for conserving other species too.


The English Elm and Dutch Elm Disease

These magnificent trees are highly susceptible to Dutch elm disease, a fungal disease, and since it arrived in the UK in the 1960’s, it has been wreaking havoc on Elm populations.

It is sad to realise that even tall, majestic tree specimens such as the English Elm succumb to the ravages of time, and in fact a landmark elm tree, one of the UK’s oldest, was felled last year in 2019 after becoming infected with Dutch elm disease.

Two of these trees were planted way back in Preston Park, Brighton around 1613. One developed this Dutch Elm disease and had to be removed to prevent the spread of the deadly fungus. Fortunately, there are still more than 17,000 elm trees in Brighton and Hove – the biggest amount of elm trees in Britain.

The disease is carried on the elm bark beetle (Scolytus). The beetle bores into the trunk of the elm to lay its eggs and the larvae then feeds on the tree’s tissue. An infected tree’s foliage turns yellow, wilts and dies off.


The Elm Has It All – Good Looks and Strength

The wood of the Elm tree is strong and durable and is also resistant to water. It has been used to make boats, furniture, coffins and floorboards.

If tree lovers fancy the idea of a fast-growing tree, they will appreciate the beautiful Ulmus Procera or English Elm. This is because the deciduous tree is actually one of the most common and easy-going trees around. It is a fast-growing tree and doesn’t become affected by the cold and frost.

The bark of the English Elm is dark brown, rough and fissured. The twigs of the tree are short and hairy, and the leaves are roundish or oval and they’re toothed on the edges with a coarse and hairy texture. The leaves are pointed at the tips. English elms are hermaphrodites which means that both males and females are represented in the same flower.

The flowers of the English Elm are dark pink to reddish and when you see this – usually in February/March, the tree is about to come into leaf. The fruits are tiny nuts surrounded by a papery wing which the wind whisks away to be pollinated.


Growing the English Elm

If you want to grow a young English Elm in your garden, make sure you have plenty of space as it is a large tree. You can buy a young tree from a tree nursery.


When you plant your Elm:


  • It will want full sun or partial shade together with rich, fertile, well-drained soil.


  • You can plant your container-grown Elm any time of year and you don’t have to change the soil too much.


  • Add some compost if the soil for your young Elm appears poor.


  • Remember to dig a hole that is just a bit deeper than the container your Elm arrives in. The hole’s width should also be 4 inches wider than that of its container’s width. Once your elm is snugly in its new home, fill up the hole with soil, leaving a shallow pool so that when you water your elm, the water forms a pool around the tree and doesn’t run off.


  • Don’t fertilise your new tree immediately but wait for next spring, allowing it to establish itself. Be very careful with fertilizer and follow the directions on the packaging as over-application can kill your tree.


Felling Diseased Elms

The English Elm is such a fantastic tree whether it is grown in the countryside or the city. It’s a no-nonsense tree, growing in any soil type.

If you know of an Elm tree that is showing signs of disease, don’t hesitate to call us at GraftinGardeners because our arborists have all the know-how on felling trees and also removing them.

This is important if we all want to continue enjoying the benefits of the mighty Elm and allowing it to continue being such a vital part of nature.


Article was written by Conner D.

Article Source: https://www.graftingardeners.co.uk/english-elm-tree/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *