Ulmus minor 'Viminalis'

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Ulmus minor 'Viminalis'
BH00071 Ulmus. Longhill School, Rottingdean (1).jpg
'Viminalis', The Vale, Rottingdean, Brighton
SpeciesUlmus minor

The Field Elm cultivar Ulmus minor 'Viminalis' [1] (:'willow-like'), occasionally referred to as the Twiggy Field Elm,[2][3] was raised by Masters in 1817, and listed in 1831 as U. campestris viminalis, without description.[4] Loudon added a general description in 1838,[2] and the Cambridge University Herbarium acquired a leaf specimen of the tree in 1866. Moss, writing in 1912, said that the Ulmus campestris viminalis from Cambridge University Herbarium was the only elm he thought agreed with the original Plot's elm (not U. minor 'Plotii') as illustrated by Dr. Plot in 1677 from specimens growing in an avenue and coppice at Hanwell near Banbury.[5][6] Elwes and Henry (1913) also considered Loudon's Ulmus campestris viminalis to be Dr Plot's elm.[7] Its 19th-century name, U. campestris var. viminalis, led the cultivar to be classified for a time as a variety of English Elm.[7] On the Continent, 'Viminalis' was the Ulmus antarctica Hort., 'zierliche Ulme' [:'dainty elm'] of Kirchner's Arboretum Muscaviense (1864).[8]

Melville considered 'Viminalis' one form, the 'type' cultivar,[9] of the natural, variable hybrid, U. minor × U. minor 'Plotii', which occurs in England where the two trees overlap, and which he called, believing U. plotii Druce a species, U. × viminalis.[10] He questioned, however, Henry's claim that 'Viminalis' was Dr Plot's elm. Writing in 1940 and referring to a pencil rubbing in Herb. Druce, vol. 113 of the Sloane Collection, he wrote "I can see no reason to doubt that this is Plot's plant," but "it is [not] U. × viminalis Lodd".[11] Boom (1959)[12] and Bean (1988)[9] listed 'Viminalis' as a cultivar and the 'type' clone of Melville's U. × viminalis.


Wood (1851) described 'Viminalis' as "a neat-growing compact tree, with small foliage",[13] Henry (1913) as a "tree with ascending branches, pendulous branchlets, and sparse foliage",[7] and Bean (1981) as a "narrow-headed, rather slender tree".[9] 'Viminalis' is slow-growing; it can ultimately reach 20 m in height.[7][14] Leaves vary from obovate-elliptic to narrowly elliptic; they are deeply serrated, < 5.0 cm long, tapering to a nearly symmetrical base and long-acuminate at the tip, with prominent white axil tufts on the undersides.[9][7]

In his description of Ulmus antarctica Hort. (1864), Kirchner added that the leaves are more or less downward-curving, with longish petioles, and that the leaf-margins have numerous deep, double, hook-shaped teeth, "so that the leaves appear almost slit".[8]

Loudon's sketch (below) suggests that a narrow leaf was fairly uniform on his tree. The Cambridge University Herbarium specimen of Loudon's Ulmus campestris viminalis[15] shows leaves resembling both Henry's 'Viminalis' drawing[16] and Schneider's 'Antarctica' drawing,[17] confirming the synonymy. 'Viminalis' has been likened to Zelkova × verschaffeltii.[18] Bean wrote in 1936, "I have never seen it bearing fruit, although it flowers."[19] The old specimen in Lydiard Street, Ballarat, Victoria, however (see 'Notable trees'), produces abundant fruit, the seed being close to the marginal notch in somewhat broad samarae.

Pests and diseases[edit]

'Viminalis' is very susceptible to Dutch elm disease, as are the natural hybrids between Field Elm and Plot Elm (Melville's U. × viminalis), of which the type cultivar is usually considered an example.


'Viminalis' was valued for its ornamental qualities, Wood (1851) considering it "well adapted for the back part of shrubberies".[13] Bean (1936) called it "a charming small tree for gardens, very elegant and not growing fast".[19] Kirchner noted that the tree is not sensitive to frost.[8] Specimens were present in many of the major UK collections, including Cambridge University Botanic Garden (see 'Notable trees' below), Kew Gardens (35 ft., 1913),[7] Westonbirt Arboretum (49 ft., 1927),[20] Royal Victoria Park, Bath (1857, 1905),[21][3] and Ryston Hall arboretum, Norfolk (planted as U. antarctica, 1914).[22][23] 'Viminalis' remained in the catalogues of the Hillier nursery, Winchester, till the 1960s.[24]

Introduced to North America, Ulmus viminalis, 'Slender-twigged elm', was marketed by Hovey's nursery of Boston, Massachusetts, from the 1850s,[25] and by the Mount Hope Nursery (also known as Ellwanger and Barry) of Rochester, New York, from c.1860.[26] In continental Europe, North America and Australasia a few specimens survive in arboreta and avenues. One tree 40 feet (12 m) in height, determined as U. × viminalis Loud. by Melville, stood by the lake at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, in 1953.[27] It may have been the Ulmus viminalis specimen present in the Gardens in 1877.[28] In the UK three mature trees survive in the Brighton and Hove area (2017).[note 1] The tree remains (2017) in cultivation in Australia.[29][30]

Notable trees[edit]

Elwes and Henry list notable specimens "of this variety" (the type tree described and illustrated) in the Cambridge University Botanic Garden (70 ft) and in Gisselfeld Park, Denmark (60 ft). Three trees labelled U. 'Viminalis', pollarded in 1984,[32] stand in Benalla Botanic Gardens, Australia.[33][34] A specimen of the same cultivar, apparently unpollarded, stands in Lydiard Street, Ballarat, Victoria.[29][30]


Cultivars include both sports of the type tree and elms similar enough to have been conjectured as related to it:


  • Ulmus antarctica Hort..[8]
  • Ulmus campestris antarctica.[35]
  • Ulmus campestris 'Betulinoides'.[36]
  • Ulmus campestris var. betulaefolia.[37][2]
  • U. campestris var. laciniata.[38]
  • U. campestris var. microphylla pendula Hort. as in synonymy.[39]
  • Ulmus campestris var. nuda subvar. incisa Hort.Vilv..[40] Considered "possibly U. viminalis" by Green (1964).
  • Ulmus campestris var. stricta.[41]
  • Ulmus campestris var. virginalis in synonymy.[42]
  • ? Ulmus campestris viminalis stricta.[43]
  • Ulmus gracilis Hort..[8]
  • Ulmus 'Masters's Twiggy'.[4]
  • Ulmus montana viminalis marmorata Hort..[44]
  • Ulmus scabra viminalis gracilis Hort..[45]
  • Ulmus scabra viminalis pulverulenta Hort..[46][45]
  • Ulmus suberosa betuloides Hort..[47]
  • Ulmus viminalis Lodd.[48]
  • Ulmus viminalis pendula.[49]


North America[edit]



Pseudo-'Viminalis' and 'Viminalis'-like elms[edit]

Not all clones named 'Viminalis' match the named cultivars above. Three specimens supplied by the Späth nursery to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in 1902[53] as Ulmus campestris viminalis[54] were determined by Melville in 1958 as U. viminalis Lodd but "not the usual nothomorph".[55] One stood in the Garden itself till the late 20th century;[55] the other two may survive in Edinburgh, as it was the practice of the Garden to distribute trees about the city. An old cultivar with leaves that appear to match herbarium specimens of Späth's U. campestris viminalis [56] stands (2018) in the middle of North Walk, The Meadows, Edinburgh (see gallery); a second, possibly the same clone and age, in the grounds of Holyrood Palace (both trees lost their crowns in a 2016 gale and are regenerating).[57] The Ulmus campestris viminalis supplied by Späth and planted in 1897 at the Dominion Arboretum, Ottawa, Canada, is likely to have been this clone (not to be confused with Späth's U. × hollandica 'Viminalis').[58]

A number of old non-ornamental trees believed to belong to Melville's U. × viminalis group survive (2015) in a wood in Mepal, Cambridgeshire.[59]


  1. ^ In Withdean Park; in Longhill School, Rottingdean; and in Brighton University, Moulsecoomb.


  1. ^ The name U. minor 'Viminalis' occurs in Hillier, J., and Coombes, A., The Hillier Manual of Trees and Shrubs (Newton Abbot, 2002), p.371
  2. ^ a b c Loudon, John Claudius (1838). Arboretum et fruticetum Britannicum. 3. p. 1376.
  3. ^ a b Inman, T. Frederic (1905). "The Elm". Proceedings of the Bath Natural History and Antiquarian Field Club. 10: 37. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  4. ^ a b Masters, W. (1831). Hortus Duroverni: Or, A Tabular and Descriptive Catalogue of Perennial Flower Roots, &c. Sold by W. Masters. p. 66. Retrieved 2017-07-06.
  5. ^ a b c Moss, Charles Edward (1912). "British elms". The Gardeners' Chronicle. 51: 236.
  6. ^ a b Plot, Robert (1677). The natural history of Oxford-shire. pp. 158, 212 (facing).
  7. ^ a b c d e f Elwes, Henry John; Henry, Augustine (1913). The Trees of Great Britain & Ireland. 7. p. 1906.
  8. ^ a b c d e Petzold; Kirchner (1864). Arboretum Muscaviense. p. 551.
  9. ^ a b c d Bean, William Jackson (1988). Trees and shrubs hardy in Great Britain (8 ed.). London: Murray. p. 659.
  10. ^ Green, Peter Shaw (1964). "Registration of cultivar names in Ulmus". Arnoldia. Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University. 24 (6–8): 41–80. Retrieved 16 February 2017.
  11. ^ Melville, Ronald (1940). "Contributions to the study of British Elms:- III. The Plot Elm, Ulmus plotii Druce" (PDF). The Journal of Botany. 78: 181–191. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  12. ^ Boom, B.K. (1959). Nederlandse dendrologie. 1. p. 158.
  13. ^ a b Wood, John Frederick (1852). "Coppiceana". The Midland Florist and Suburban Horticulturist. London. 6: 365.
  14. ^ Browne, D. J. (1846). The Trees of America. Harper & Brothers, New York.
  15. ^ U. campestris viminalis leaves, Cambridge University Herbarium, labelled 'Herb. J. Lindley, Ph.D., Purchased in 1866'
  16. ^ [File:Leaf of U. 'Viminalis' from Elwes & Henry.jpg Leaf-drawing of Elwes & Henry's 'type' tree (1913)]
  17. ^ [File:Illustriertes Handbuch der Laubholzkunde, page 215.jpg Schneider, Camillo Karl (1906), Illustriertes Handbuch der Laubholzkunde, p.215, Fig. "o": f. antarctica]
  18. ^ Hilliers' Manual of Trees & Shrubs. (1977). David & Charles, Newton Abbot, UK.
  19. ^ a b Bean, W. J. (1936) Trees and shrubs hardy in Great Britain, 7th edition, Murray, London, vol. 2, p.621
  20. ^ Jackson, A. Bruce (1927). Catalogue of the Trees & Shrubs [at Westonbirt] in the Collection of the Late Lieut-Col. Sir George Lindsay Holford. London. p. 195.
  21. ^ Hanham, F. (1857). A Manual for the Park (Royal Victoria Park, Bath). Longman, London.
  22. ^ rystonhall.co.uk/
  23. ^ Ryston Hall Arboretum catalogue. c. 1920. pp. 13–14.
  24. ^ Catalogue of trees & shrubs. T & S 100. Winchester, England: Hillier and sons. 1964. pp. 158–159.
  25. ^ Hovey & Co., Boston, Mass., Catalogue of ornamental trees & shrubs, evergreens and climbing plants, 1855, p.5
  26. ^ Ellwanger & Barry, Descriptive Catalogue of Hardy Ornamental Trees ... at the Mount Hope Nurseries (Rochester, N.Y., 1868), p.9
  27. ^ Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris (France). Collection: Vascular plants (P). Specimen P06882554
  28. ^ Guilfoyle, W. R. (William Robert), Annual report on the Melbourne Botanic Gardens, Government House grounds and Domain, Melbourne, 1877; p.39
  29. ^ a b Shaw, Phil. "Significant Elms of South-Eastern Australia". advancedtrees.com.au. Retrieved 2017-06-19.
  30. ^ a b "1123 Lydiard Street North, Ballarat". Google Maps. Retrieved 2017-06-19.
  31. ^ Herbarium specimen of Withdean Park 'Viminalis', Brighton
  32. ^ "Victorian Heritage Database". vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au. 2008-06-16. Retrieved 2017-06-20.
  33. ^ benalla.vic.gov.au/Files/BRC_Gardens_DL.pdf
  34. ^ 'Viminalis' in Benalla Botanic Gardens, trusttrees.org.au
  35. ^ Catalogue of the trees and shrubs in the arboretum and botanic gardens at the central experimental farm (2 ed.). 1899. p. 74.
  36. ^ Dieck, Georg (1887). Haupt-catalog der Obst- und gehölzbaumschulen des ritterguts Zöschen bei Merseburg. Zöschen.
  37. ^ Loddiges, Conrad (1836). Catalogue. Hackney.
  38. ^ Botanic Garden Meise, Herbarium specimen BR0000010841105
  39. ^ Hartwig, Julius; Rümpler, Theodor (1875). Illustrirtes Gehölzbuch. p. 580. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
  40. ^ Wesmael, Alfred (1862). "Bulletin de la Fédération des sociétés d'horticulture de Belgique". p. 389. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
  41. ^ Audibert, Urbain (1817). Catalogue des végétaux de tous genres cultivés dans les jardins et pépinières du Sieur Audibert. p. 23. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
  42. ^ Lavallée, Alphonse (1877). Arboretum Segrezianum. p. 235.
  43. ^ Boulger, George (1879). "British Elms". The Gardener's Chronicle. 12: 298.
  44. ^ Beissner, L; Schelle, E; Zabel, H (1903). Handbuch der Laubholz-Benennung. p. 85.
  45. ^ a b Dieck, Georg (1885). Haupt-catalog der Obst- und gehölzbaumschulen des ritterguts Zöschen bei Merseburg. Zöschen. p. 82.
  46. ^ Dippel (1892). Illustriertes Handbuch der Laubholzkunde. 2. p. 30.
  47. ^ Petzold; Kirchner (1864). Arboretum Muscaviense. p. 553.
  48. ^ Krüssman, Gerd, Manual of Cultivated Broad-Leaved Trees & Shrubs (1984 vol. 3)
  49. ^ Masters, William (1891). "Trees and shrubs for large towns". Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society of London. 13: 90.
  50. ^ "List of plants in the {elm} collection". Brighton & Hove City Council. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  51. ^ Johnson, Owen (ed.) (2003). Champion Trees of Britain & Ireland. Whittet Press, ISBN 978-1-873580-61-5.
  52. ^ "National Trust - Hybrid Elm (Ulmus viminalis)". trusttrees.org.au. Retrieved 2017-06-19.
  53. ^ Accessions book. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. 1902. pp. 45, 47.
  54. ^ Späth's erroneous clone, data.rbge.org.uk E00824785, E00824787, E00824880
  55. ^ a b Melville's 1958 annotations to the RBGE cultivated herbarium accessions book, tree C2706
  56. ^ data.rbge.org.uk, specimen E00824785
  57. ^ "Field elm in Holyrood Palace gardens". Google Maps. June 2015. Retrieved 2018-07-02.
  58. ^ Saunders, William; Macoun, William Tyrrell (1899). Catalogue of the trees and shrubs in the arboretum and botanic gardens at the central experimental farm (2 ed.). pp. 74–75.
  59. ^ Wilkinson, Gerald, After the Elm (London 1978)

External links[edit]