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Wych Elm (Ulmus glabra)

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Wych Elm (Ulmus glabra)

We're surrounded by English elms (Ulmus procera) in the hedgerows hereabouts as - fortunately - they sucker so freely and lay relatively well. But leave them to grow to 20 feet and they succumb to Dutch Elm disease. The disease is a fungus born by elm bark beetles, which blocks trees' capillaries, and wiped out all the mature trees in England in the 70s, with the exception of pockets like Brighton. I was just too young to remember it, but it must have been really traumatic to lose so many large trees in their pomp, each with their own very distinctive profile.

Interestingly, the archaeological record suggests this is not the first time elm numbers have dramatically collapsed - and recovered. The fungus itself is attacked by viruses, which are constantly mutating, and perhaps as the number of trees falls so does the beetle population.

There are many different types in elm in the landscape still, however. There are officially four to six, but - like willow - there are lots more hybrids.  There are new trees on the market too now which are said to be disease resistant - most notably Hillier's "New Horizon" hybrid.

Our native Wych elm seems to be less attractive to elm bark beetles, and we have cautiously started selling it. There are still reasonable numbers of it in small pockets in the north (including Edinburgh) and west, although it is very scarce across the UK as a whole now. 

"Wych" is from the old English wice (pliant) - oddly, given Ulmus procera's common name - Wych elm is now thought to be the only genuinely British elm. English elms seem to have arrived with the Romans. Unlike its cousins Wych elm doesn't sucker and tolerates urban conditions, although it also makes a big tree (to 40m) if left unpruned. It prefers deep, moist soils. Its flowers are hermaphrodite and it's wind pollinated. 

Elm is an important tree for a number of reasons. The wood was used everywhere, from boat bottoms to coffin boards; in our old house you could find it in the roof and, very typically, used as stair treads. Among the species dependent on it is the White Hairstreak butterfly.

Plants For Sale

Provenance certificates are available on request for our Wych elms, wich are grown on the southwest. We only sell young 40/60cm plants.

Suppliers: Perrie Hale Forest Nursery

Your purchase of Wych elms helps us support a range of charitieswhich are related to the products we sell.

See our planting and size guide for details and tips on planting. These oak trees are all bare root, and are consequently available for delivery from November until March ( please ask if you are interested in pot grown plants). During the lifting season there may be up to two weeks delay between placing the order and dispatching, due to weather conditions or pressure of orders, which are dealt with in date sequence. Orders for Quercus robur placed between March and September are confirmed in October ready for dispatch from November.


  • Ultimate Height


  • Ultimate Spread


  • Time to Ultimate Height

    Over 20 years


  • Type

    Clay, loam

  • pH

    Neutral, acid, alkaline


  • Position

    Sheltered or exposed

  • Sunlight

    Full or partial sun