Ulmus minor subsp. angustifolia

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Ulmus minor subsp. angustifolia
Cornubiensis.jpg
Cornish Elm, Finistere, France, in 1996.

Photo: Eric Collin, Cemagref

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Ulmaceae
Genus: Ulmus
Species: U. minor
Subspecies: U. minor subsp. angustifolia
Trinomial name
Ulmus minor subsp. angustifolia
Mill., (Weston), Stace
Synonyms
  • Ulmus minor var. cornubiensis Richens
  • Ulmus pyramidalis C. de Vos
  • Ulmus stricta Lindley
  • Ulmus suberosa fastigiata Audibert

Ulmus minor Mill. subsp. angustifolia (Weston) Stace, known as the Cornish Elm, was commonly found in South West England, Southern Ireland and Brittany until the arrival of Dutch elm disease in the late 1960s. Mature trees are now largely restricted to Australia, whither it was introduced in the 19th century.

Description[edit]

A Cornish Elm in Preston Park, Brighton, in 2005.

Growing to a height of up to 27 metres (89 ft), the Cornish Elm is a slender, slow-growing deciduous tree, distinguished by its long, straight trunk, which culminates in a narrow fan-shaped crown comprising short, straight, ascending branches.[1][2] The leaves are small, obovate to oval, typically acuminate at the apex, 6 cm long by 3.5 cm broad, with a dark-green upper surface, glossy and smooth. The reddish apetalous wind-pollinated flowers occur in clusters of 15–20 on very short pedicels. The samarae rarely ripened in England, but when mature were very similar to those of the Field Elm group, being mostly obovate in shape and 16 mm by 10 mm in size.

Pests and diseases[edit]

Cornish Elm is very susceptible to Dutch elm disease.

Cultivation and uses[edit]

The origin of the Cornish Elm in England remains a matter of contention; commonly assumed to have been introduced from Brittany by Man, it is also considered possible that the species may have survived the Ice Ages on lands to the south of Cornwall long since lost to the sea.[3] Without doubt, its current distribution owes much to man's activities, as it is the tree traditionally considered the best choice for providing shelter along the Cornish coast. Moreover, its timber was much prized for its strength, and commonly used in wheel and wagon construction.[4]

Few mature specimens are known to survive in the wild in England, but suckers remain a common component of hedgerows, and thus the genetic resources of this subspecies are not considered endangered.[5] A prime example is the Great Elm of Rosuic, an ancient pollard elm which attained a d.b.h. of over 2.5 metres (8.2 ft) before succumbing to disease, but is now producing suckers.[6][7] Again, like others of the species, propagation is almost entirely by suckers, which the tree produces copiously.[8][9]

Notable trees[edit]

As of 2011, the Woodland Trust lists only one verified mature Cornish Elm surviving in Cornwall, a specimen 1.89 metres (6.2 ft) in girth at Tregoose near Helston.[10] As of 2009, two specimens of Cornish Elm are reputed to survive in East Sussex at Selmeston, near the footpath across the grounds of Sherrington Manor.[11] A specimen (height about 25  m, girth about 2  m) survives (2014) in Edinburgh, near the intersection of Douglas Crescent and Douglas Gardens.[12] A small number of mature trees, with an average d.b.h. of 143 cm, survive at Castletownbere Cemetery in County Cork, Ireland.[13] Another specimen, believed to be over a century old, exists in Shoreham, Victoria in Australia.

Varieties[edit]

The notable botanist Ronald Melville considered Goodyer's Elm Ulmus minor subsp. angustifolia var. goodyeri a variety of the Cornish Elm.

Hybrids[edit]

It has been suggested that a variety of Ulmus × hollandica found mainly in Cornwall, Ulmus × hollandica 'Daveyi', is a natural hybrid between wych elm and Cornish elm.[14][15]

Cultivars[edit]

There are no known cultivars of this taxon, although the botanist F. J. Fontaine conjectured that the cultivar Atropurpurea is related to the Cornish Elm.[16] The tree is not known to be in commerce beyond Australia.

Accessions[edit]

North America
Europe
Australasia

Nurseries[edit]

Australasia

References[edit]

  1. ^ Diagnostic photographs of Cornish elm in St Austell (Francis Frith Collection); at Coldrenick, Menheniot (Elwes and Henry, The Trees of Britain and Ireland vol.VII, Plate 397 [after p.1933]) ; in Zelah (oldcornwall.netfirms.com).
  2. ^ Photograph of U. minor subsp. angustifolia in France.
  3. ^ White, J. & More, D. (2002). Trees of Britain & Northern Europe. Cassell's, London.
  4. ^ Elwes, H. J. & Henry, A. (1913). The Trees of Great Britain & Ireland. Vol. VII. pp 1848-1929. Private publication. [1]
  5. ^ Ipgri.cgiar.org
  6. ^ "Ancient Trees in Cornwall (third paragraph)". Cornwall Council. February 17, 2010. Retrieved May 5, 2011. "Based on a chapter written by Sue Pring in 'Glorious Gardens of Cornwall' published by the Cornwall Gardens Trust." 
  7. ^ Rackham, Oliver, A History of the Countryside (London, 1986)
  8. ^ Richens, R. H. (1983). Elm. Cambridge University Press
  9. ^ Stace, C. A. (1997). New Flora of the British Isles, 2nd edition. Cambridge University Press
  10. ^ Details and photographs of Tregoose elm. Ancient-tree-hunt.org.
  11. ^ South Downs Online
  12. ^ Edinburgh 'Angustifolia' may be seen on Google Streetview, from 1 Douglas Gardens.
  13. ^ Mackenthun, G. L. (2007) The elms of Co. Cork - a survey of species, varieties and forms. Irish Forestry Vol 64, (1 & 2) 2007
  14. ^ http://www.cornwall.gov.uk/default.aspx?page=13849
  15. ^ Archie Miles, Hidden Trees of Britain, Ebury Press, 2007, p.17
  16. ^ F. J. Fontaine, Dendroflora No., (1968).
  17. ^ Brighton-Hove.gov.uk
  18. ^ Cambridge Botanic Garden
  19. ^ Spencer, R., Hawker, J. and Lumley, P. (1991). Elms in Australia. Australia: Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne. ISBN 0-7241-9962-4. 
  20. ^ EstablishedTrees.com.au