Ulmus 'Exoniensis'

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Ulmus 'Exoniensis'
Ulmus glabra Exoniensis 030904 amsterdam brink.jpg
Exeter Elm in Amsterdam
OriginExeter, England

Ulmus 'Exoniensis', the 'Exeter Elm', was discovered near Exeter, England, in 1826, and propagated by the Ford & Please nursery in that city.[1][2][3][4] [5] Traditionally believed to be a cultivar of the Wych Elm U. glabra, its fastigiate shape when young, upward-curving tracery, small samarae and leaves, late leaf-flush and late leaf-fall, taken with its south-west England provenance, suggest a link with the Cornish Elm, which shares these characteristics.


The tree initially has an upright, columnar form,[6] but later develops a large rounded crown and occasionally reaches 17 m in height. Older specimens may develop pendulous branches.[7] Exeter Elm is chiefly distinguished by its contorted leaves, < 11 cm long by 8 cm broad, rounder than the type [wych] and with more laciniate margins,[8] which occasionally wrap around the branchlets and remain thus well into winter.[9] 'Exoniensis' is often pollarded to produce a denser, fan-shaped crown (see main picture).

Pests and diseases[edit]

Chevalier noted (1942) that Ulmus montana fastigiata (Exeter Elm) was one of four European cultivars found by researchers in The Netherlands to have significant resistance to the earlier strain of Dutch elm disease prevalent in the 1920s and '30s, the others being 'Monumentalis' Rinz, 'Berardii' and 'Vegeta'. The four were rated less resistant than U. foliacea clone 23, from Spain, later cultivated as 'Christine Buisman'.[10] 'Exoniensis' possesses a moderate resistance to the more virulent strain of Dutch elm disease, and consequently often featured in the Dutch elm breeding programme in association with the Field Elm (U. minor) and Himalayan Elm (U. wallichiana).[11]


Once commonly planted in the UK and parts of western Europe, 'Exoniensis' is also known to have been marketed in Poland in the 19th century by the Ulrich nursery,[12] Warsaw, and remains in commerce there. The Späth nursery of Berlin cultivated the tree as U. montana fastigiata (U. exoniensis Hort.) from the early 20th century.[13] It is possible that three trees supplied by the Späth nursery to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in 1902 as U. montana fastigiata[14] were Exeter Elm,[13] old specimens of which survive in Edinburgh (it was the practice of the Garden to distribute trees about the city).[14] In Sweden 'Exoniensis' is sometimes pruned from an early age to form a tidy cone-shaped tree called locally 'pyramidalm' (: pyramid elm - also one of Späth's names for 'Exoniensis').[15][16][17] It is found in Australia at the Ballarat Botanical Gardens where it is listed on the Significant Tree Register of the National Trust. An Ulmus plumosa (a synonym of 'Exoniensis' in continental Europe[18]), of "elegant and pyramidal shape" and "dark green foliage", appeared in the 1902 catalogue of the Bobbink and Atkins nursery, Rutherford, New Jersey.[19]

Notable trees[edit]

Bean (1936) noted a large old specimen, 12 feet in girth, in the garden of the Old Vicarage, Bitton, Gloucestershire.[20] A 180-year-old specimen in Hamburg has attained a height of 28 m and a trunk diameter of 1.45 m.[21] The UK TROBI Champion tree is in Scotland, at Baxter Gardens, Dundee, measuring 15 m high by 103 cm d.b.h. in 2004.[22] The cultivar is represented in Éire by a tree at Birr Castle (Mount Palmer), County Offaly, with a d.b.h. of 29 cm when measured in 2002.

Hybrid cultivars[edit]

'Clusius', 'Columella', 'Dodoens', 'Lobel', 'Plantyn', 'Nanguen' = Lutèce, 'Wanoux' = Vada. The cultivar 'Columella' features the same rough, rounded, contorted leaves, the result of a recessive gene inherited from the Exeter Elm.

'Exoniensis' also indirectly featured in the Italian elm breeding programme as an ancestor of 'Plantyn', which was crossed with clones of the Siberian Elm Ulmus pumila to produce the cultivars 'Arno', 'Plinio', and 'San Zanobi'.[23][24]



  • Ballarat Botanical Gardens, Australia. Acc. details not known.


  1. ^ Bean, W. J. (1981). Trees and shrubs hardy in Great Britain, 7th edition. Murray, London
  2. ^ Elwes, Henry John; Henry, Augustine (1913). The Trees of Great Britain & Ireland. 7. p. 1866.
  3. ^ Richens, R. H. (1983). Elm. Cambridge University Press.
  4. ^ White, J. & More, D. (2003). Trees of Britain and Northern Europe. Cassell's, London.
  5. ^ Harvey, J. (1974). Early Nurserymen.  p.104. Phillimore & Co. Ltd. 1975. ISBN 978-0850331929
  6. ^ Photograph of fastigiate form of young Exeter elm
  7. ^ Wilkinson, Gerald, Epitaph for the Elm (London 1978), p.62
  8. ^ Bean, W. J. (1936) Trees and shrubs hardy in Great Britain, 7th edition, Murray, London, vol. 2, p.617
  9. ^ Photograph of 'Exoniensis' leaves in early summer
  10. ^ "Les Ormes de France" (PDF). Revue de botanique appliquée et d'agriculture coloniale. 22 (254): 441. 1942.
  11. ^ Heybroek, H.M. (1993). "The Dutch Elm Breeding Program". In Sticklen, Mariam B.; Sherald, James L. (eds.). Dutch Elm Disease Research. New York, USA: Springer-Verlag. pp. 16–25. ISBN 978-1-4615-6874-2. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  12. ^ Ulrich, C. (1894), Katalog Drzew i Krezewow, C. Ulrich, Rok 1893–94, Warszawa
  13. ^ a b Katalog (PDF). 108. Berlin, Germany: L. Späth Baumschulenweg. 1902–1903. pp. 132–133.
  14. ^ a b Accessions book. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. 1902. pp. 45, 47.
  15. ^ Photographs of 'Pyramidalm' and unpruned 'Exoniensis' in Sweden, www.tradgardsakademin.se [1]
  16. ^ Lagerstedt, Lars (2014). "Märkesträd i Sverige - 10 Almar" [Notable trees in Sweden - 10 Elms] (PDF). Lustgården. 94: 63, 73. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  17. ^ Lars Lagerstedt, Pyramid Elm in Lustgarden, 2013, p.40
  18. ^ De Vos, C. (1867). Beredeneerd woordenboek der voornaamste heesters en coniferen, in Nederland gekweekt. Groningen: J. B. Wolters. p. 135.
  19. ^ Bobbink and Atkins, Rutherford. N.J. 1902. p. 51.
  20. ^ Bean, W. J. (1936) Trees and shrubs hardy in Great Britain, 7th edition, Murray, London, vol. 2, p.617
  21. ^ U. glabra 'Exoniensis', the "Planten un Blomen", Hamburg: from the Handbuch der Ulmengewächse, [2]
  22. ^ Johnson, O. (2011). Champion Trees of Britain & Ireland, p. 169. Kew Publishing, Kew, London. ISBN 9781842464526.
  23. ^ Santini A., Fagnani A., Ferrini F. & Mittempergher L., (2002) 'San Zanobi' and 'Plinio' elm trees. [3] HortScience 37(7): 1139–1141. 2002. American Society for Horticultural Science, Alexandria, VA 22314, USA.
  24. ^ Santini A., Fagnani A., Ferrini F., Mittempergher L., Brunetti M., Crivellaro A., Macchioni N., Elm breeding for DED resistance, the Italian clones and their wood properties. [4] Invest Agrar: Sist. Recur. For. (2004) 13 (1), 179–184. 2004
  25. ^ De Vos, C. (1867). Beredeneerd woordenboek der voornaamste heesters en coniferen, in Nederland gekweekt. Groningen: J. B. Wolters. p. 136.
  26. ^ "List of plants in the {elm} collection". Brighton & Hove City Council. Retrieved 23 September 2016.

External links[edit]