Ulmus 'Camperdownii'

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Camperdown Elm Prospect Park Brooklyn.jpg
Cultivar 'Camperdownii'
Origin Camperdown Park, Dundee, Scotland

The Camperdown Elm (Ulmus 'Camperdownii') is a cultivar which cannot reproduce from seed. Although often still classed as a cultivar of the wych elm (U. glabra), the tree was considered a nothomorph of Ulmus × hollandica 'Vegeta' by Green [1] (1964).[1]


The grafted Camperdown Elm slowly develops a broad, flat head that may eventually build as high as 4 m (13 feet) and an incommensurately wide crown with a contorted, weeping habit.[2]

Pests and diseases[edit]

A Camperdown Elm at Spier's parklands infected with Rigidoporous ulmarius

'Camperdownii' is susceptible to Dutch elm disease. However there are still many examples to be found in parks and gardens across the British Isles as it often avoids detection by the Scolytae beetle (a major vector of Dutch elm disease) because of its diminutive height. In North America it often escapes infection possibly because the American vectors of the disease do not feed on wych elm;[citation needed] however its leaves are heavily damaged there by the elm leaf beetle Xanthogaleruca luteola [2], elm yellows [3], and disfigured by leaf-mining and leaf-rolling insects, such as the elm casebearer, Coleophora ulmifoliella [4].


About 1835–1840 (often mis-stated as '1640'), the Earl of Camperdown’s head forester, David Taylor, discovered a young contorted elm tree (a sport) growing in the forest at Camperdown House, in Dundee, Scotland. The young tree was lifted and replanted within the gardens Camperdown House where it still remains to this day. The original tree is less than 3 m tall, with a dramatic weeping habit and contorted branch structure and grows on its own roots. The earl's gardener is said to have produced the first of what are commonly recognised as Camperdown elms by grafting it to the trunk of a wych elm (Ulmus glabra). Every 'Camperdownii' is descended (as cuttings taken from that original sport) and usually grafted on a wych elm trunk. [3] Other grafting stock has been used, including Dutch elm Ulmus × hollandica, Siberian elm Ulmus pumila, and English elm Ulmus atinia (although this ultimately produces suckers).

The original sport of Ulmus glabra 'Camperdownii', Camperdown Park, Dundee, 1989

Camperdown elm is cold hardy, suffering more from summer drought than winter cold (to zone 4), although 90% of the University of Minnesota elm trials specimens were lost during the exceptionally severe winter of 2002–2003.[4] The tree is often confused with the much taller 'Horizontalis' (Weeping Wych Elm) owing to both being given the epithet 'Pendula' at some stage.[1]

Camperdown Elms satisfied a mid-Victorian passion for curiosities in the 'Gardenesque' gardens then in vogue. Many examples were planted, as 'rarities', in Britain and America, wherever elite gardens were extensive enough for tree collections. There are many on university campuses, often planted as memorials. Camperdown Elms are used in stately landscaping of American university campuses, such as at the campus of the University of Idaho, where a number were planted many decades ago. Others featured in townscapes such as at the Lakeview Cemetery, Seattle, and Kripalu Yoga Center, Stockbridge, MA.[citation needed]

The tree was also introduced to Australia, where a number still survive, notably in Victoria.[citation needed]

Notable trees[edit]

Weeping Elm, Halifax Public Gardens
Unmaintained Camperdown Elm, Gardner MA 01440
A Camperdown Elm located in Port Gamble, Washington. Planted 1875.
Detail of the extreme contortion in the trunk and branches of a Camperdown Elm located in Port Gamble, Washington.
Parc du Bois-de-Coulonge, Quebec City
Red Head Road, Saint John, NB
Prospect Park's elm in winter, showing its distinctive qualities

In Prospect Park, Brooklyn, a Camperdown Elm planted in 1872 near the Boat House has developed into a picturesque weatherbeaten specimen, no more than four metres high, like an oversized bonsai. Described by the poet Marianne Moore as "our crowning curio," the Prospect Park tree is considered the outstanding specimen tree in the park.[5] Halifax Public Gardens contains a similar specimen, located next to the Boer War Memorial fountain, which displays the same characteristics as the Prospect Park tree.

The UK TROBI Champion trees are in Scotland, at Baxter Gardens, Dundee, and at Ayr Cemetery. [6] In France, two grow by the gate at corner of rue de Buzenval and rue de Lagney in the Square Sarah Bernhardt, Paris (20th Arrondissement). NB: Two Corkscrew Willows at the entrance near the corner of rue de Lagny & rue Mounet Sully look the same during winter.

In Gardner, Massachusetts, there is a Camperdown Elm on Parker Street in the front yard of a former store now currently a private residence, towering over the peak of the two-story building with a trunk circumference of over 9 feet. The tree has not been touched for decades and is infested with leaf miners and borers; there is also a significant amount of trunk rot and large missing limbs. As of late June 2010, a local resident, Nate Thibault, has taken action to create a restoration plan for the tree. The tree's age is undetermined but believed to have reached its maturity.

In Warrenton, Oregon there is a Camperdown Elm on the property of the DK Warren House. This is actually 2 trees that have intertwined together for a spectacular canopy. www.dkwarrenhouse.com, Circa. 1885

In Port Gamble, Washington there is a Camperdown Elm next to the historic Walker-Ames House. Planted in 1875, this individual measures 20 feet tall, with a 26 foot crown and 7 foot trunk circumference.

In Dundee, Scotland, there are two well established Camperdownii Elms at the gated entrance to a private residence on Constitution Terrace. Both trees have grown so they intertwine with each other and create the illusion of one tree in the summer months. The tree is likely to have been cultivated around 1850, the same age as the Victorian mansion situated in the grounds which was built around 1850. These trees feature in Dundee's Tree & Woodland Heritage brochure on Page 18.[7]

In Alfred, NY the “Umbrella Tree” is a beloved landmark on the Alfred University campus. Frequently it’s a temporary home to students nestled in its branches or artwork hanging from its limbs. Found in front of the Powell Campus Center it was planted circa 1905. Originally it sat in front of Kenyon Memorial Hall, the first building on this site. It once had a “twin” located just a few yards away that was removed in 1974 due to ill health. A third one was once located next to the School of Theology building (The Gothic), currently the site of Herrick Memorial Library. [8]

In Saint John, New Brunswick, there is a Camperdown Elm on Red Head Road on the front yard of a former farm, currently a private residence. The owner is currently trying to locate the tree's history; its age is undetermined.

In Leamington, Ontario, there is a mature Camperdown Elm on Seacliff Drive in the back yard of a garden center.

Camperdown Elm, Seacliff Drive, Leamington, Ontario, Canada

In Eastport, Maine, there is a Camperdown Elm at the corner of High Street and Shackford Street. The tree is on the corner near the original Anderson home built circa the 1850s. It is 3 feet in diameter at the widest part of its trunk. Eastport is the easternmost city in the United States.

In Spiers Old School Grounds near Beith, Scotland is a fine specimen dating from the late 1880s planted by the Earl of Eglinton's head gardener on behalf of the Spier's Trust (see photograph).

In Newport, Rhode Island, there is a Camperdown Elm at the Chinese Tea House in the Marble House estate, a historic mansion built by Mr. and Mrs. William Kissam Vanderbilt between 1888 and 1892, which is open to the public.


  • Ulmus glabra 'Camperdownii'
  • Ulmus montana (: glabra) var. pendula: Kirchner[5], in Petzold[6] & Kirchner, Arboretum Muscaviense, 565, 1864.
  • Ulmus montana (: glabra) var. pendula camperdownii Hort.: Henry, in Henry & Elwes, Trees of Great Britain & Ireland, 7: 1867, 1913.
  • Ulmus montana (: glabra) pendula nova Hort.: Kirchner, in Petzold & Kirchner, Arboretum Muscaviense 565, 1864, name in synonymy.
  • Ulmus scampstoniensis pendula: Petzold, in Petzold & Kirchner, Arboretum Muscaviense 565, 1864.


North America[edit]




North America[edit]

(Widely available)


(Widely available)


  1. ^ a b Green, Peter Shaw (1964). "Registration of cultivar names in Ulmus" (PDF). Arnoldia (Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University) 24 (6–8): 41–80. Retrieved 20 June 2016. 
  2. ^ White, J. & More, D. (2002). Trees of Britain and Northern Europe, Cassell's, London
  3. ^ City of Corunna. "Pine Tree Cemetery's Camperdown Elms." Corunna Community Information. City of Corunna, 26 April 2006. Web. 6 Oct 2014. http://www.corm.us/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=102&Itemid=125.
  4. ^ Giblin, C. P. & Gillman, J. H. (2006). Elms for the Twin Cities: A Guide for Selection and Maintenance. University of Minnesota.
  5. ^ Moore, Marianne (1994). "The Camperdown Elm." Complete Poems. New York: Penguin, 1994.
  6. ^ Johnson, O. (2011). Champion Trees of Britain & Ireland, p. 168. Kew Publishing, Kew, London. ISBN 9781842464526.
  7. ^ http://www.dundeecity.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/dutreewoodherit.pdf
  8. ^ https://alfredarchives.wordpress.com/2014/02/20/the-umbrella-tree

External links[edit]