Ulmus minor subsp. angustifolia
|Ulmus minor subsp. angustifolia|
|Cornish Elm, Finistere, France, in 1996.
Photo: Eric Collin, Cemagref
|Subspecies:||U. minor subsp. angustifolia|
|Ulmus minor subsp. angustifolia
Mill., (Weston), Stace
Ulmus minor Mill. subsp. angustifolia (Weston) Stace, commonly known as the Cornish Elm, is a species of deciduous tree. The species was once a common sight across much of South West England, Southern Ireland and Brittany. However, Dutch elm disease devastated Cornish Elm populations across Europe in the 1960s and 1970s. The species now persists mostly in Australia, although a small number survive in England.
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. 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 between 15 and 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
Cultivation and uses
The origin of the Cornish Elm in the UK remains a matter of contention; commonly assumed to have been purposely introduced from Brittany by humans, 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. 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.
Few wild mature specimens are known to have survived the Dutch elm disease pandemic in England, but suckers remain a common component of hedgerows, and thus the genetic resources of this subspecies are not considered endangered. 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. Again, like others of the species, propagation is almost entirely by suckers, which the tree produces copiously.
As of 2011[update], 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. 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. A small number of mature trees, with an average d.b.h. of 143 cm, survive at Castletownbere Cemetery in County Cork, Ireland. Another specimen, believed to be over a century old, exists in Shoreham, Victoria in Australia.
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. The tree is not known to be in commerce beyond Australia.
- North America
- Arnold Arboretum. Acc. no. 17676, and acc. no. 328-81 (two trees).
- Bartlett Tree Nurseries. Acc. no. 96-2161, details unavailable.
- J. C. Raulston Arboretum, North Carolina State University, details unavailable.
- Brighton & Hove City Council, UK, NCCPG Elm Collection. 12 trees in Bear Road Cemetery, 2 in Hove Cemetery, 2 along Queen's Park Road, 1 along Buckingham Road, 1 at Benfield Valley (Hove Golf Course).
- Cambridge Botanic Garden, University of Cambridge, UK, as U. angustifolia var. cornubiensis, no accession details available.
- Cornwall: On the Isles of Scilly, example St. Mary's.
- Edinburgh: Examples on the Meadows, south of Edinburgh city centre
- Selmeston, East Sussex. Trees by the A27 (T) and nearby Sheridan Manor.
- Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, Australia.
- Bright, Victoria. Fine examples on Bright Recreation Ground and in Cherry Lane.
- Tumut, New South Wales. Trees incorporated into Elm Drive at the north-west end of the avenue. Also examples on Fitzroy Street and Merivale Street.
- Castlemaine, Victoria. Examples forming a line on Charles Fleay Memorial Playground.
- Sunbury, Victoria. 3 Examples can be found in Googly Park Reserve and 8 examples in Brooke St (between Evans St. and the train station).
- Fitzroy, Melbourne, Victoria: Line of one single clone of Cornish elm on south side of MacPherson Street; by Melbourne General Cemetery.
- Armidale, NSW: Fine line by the north side of the Armidale Sports Ground on Dumaresq Street.
- 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).
- Photograph of U. minor subsp. angustifolia in France.
- White, J. & More, D. (2002). Trees of Britain & Northern Europe. Cassell's, London.
- Elwes, H. J. & Henry, A. (1913). The Trees of Great Britain & Ireland. Vol. VII. pp 1848-1929. Private publication. 
- "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."
- Rackham, Oliver, A History of the Countryside (London, 1986)
- Richens, R. H. (1983). Elm. Cambridge University Press
- Stace, C. A. (1997). New Flora of the British Isles, 2nd edition. Cambridge University Press
- Details and photographs of Tregoose elm. Ancient-tree-hunt.org.
- South Downs Online
- Mackenthun, G. L. (2007) The elms of Co. Cork - a survey of species, varieties and forms. Irish Forestry Vol 64, (1 & 2) 2007
- Archie Miles, Hidden Trees of Britain, Ebury Press, 2007, p.17
- F. J. Fontaine, Dendroflora No., (1968).
- Cambridge Botanic Garden
- Spencer, R., Hawker, J. and Lumley, P. (1991). Elms in Australia. Australia: Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne. ISBN 0-7241-9962-4.