Ulmus × hollandica 'Cicestria'

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Ulmus × hollandica cultivar
Chichester Elms, Queens' College, Cambridge
Hybrid parentage U. glabra × U. minor
Cultivar 'Cicestria'
Origin Essex, England

The hybrid cultivar Chichester Elm was cloned at the beginning of the 18th century from a tree growing at Chichester Hall, Rawreth, near Danbury, Essex, England, then the home of Thomas Holt White FRS, brother of the naturalist Gilbert White. It is the original Ulmus × hollandica 'Vegeta' (Lindley, Hortus Cantabrigiensis, 1823), but suffered confusion with the later Huntingdon Elm hybrid by John Claudius Loudon, to which he also accorded the epithet 'Vegeta' as he found the two cultivars indistinguishable.[1][2] Chichester Elm appeared as U. cicestria in an 1801 catalogue.[3]


A very tall tree, with foliage similar to that of the Huntingdon Elm. The Rev. Adam Buddle originally identified the tree as 'a broad-leaved smooth Wych Elm' that grew 'plentifully about Danbury'.[4]

Pests and diseases[edit]

The tree is susceptible to Dutch elm disease. Its Danbury-area provenance puts it in the Dengie elm group, considered by Oliver Rackham (1986) to have some degree of resilience.[5]


Leaves, possibly juvenile, from an elm said to be 'Chichester Elm' planted at Chichester, England, in 1729. Portsmouth City Museums and Records Service.

Examples of the tree were presented in 1711 by Adam Buddle to the Chelsea Physic Garden; Buddle held a living at North Fambridge, not far from Rawreth.[3] Adam Holt, relative of Thomas Holt, distributed the elms nationwide in the 1720s.[6] Chichester Elms were planted at Woburn Abbey in the 1730s by Thomas Holt, who was agent for the estate, and are recorded in photographs in Arboretum Woburnense (1915); they no longer survive. Chichester Elm was marketed as U. cicestria in 1801 by nurseryman George Lindley of Catton, Norwich;[3] his 1815 catalogue lists the tree as U. Cicestriensis. Lindley's son, the eminent botanist John Lindley FRS, had worked in Cambridge as assistant to John Henslow, later Professor of Botany at the University, helping him lay out and catalogue the Cambridge University Botanic Garden.[7] It is possible that the tree owes its Cambridge introduction to John Lindley, whose 1823 revision of Donn's (d. 1813) Hortus Cantabrigiensis contains the first reference, bestowed by him, to the Chichester Elm as U. vegeta.[8] The claimed North American source of the tree in later 19th century catalogues almost certainly arose from Loudon's lumping together of Chichester Elm and Huntingdon Elm, for which he noted the synonym 'American Elm' adopted by some nurserymen (owing to the similarity in shape) and the Scampston Elm, with its supposed American provenance.[9] There is no record of the tree's introduction to North America. The tree is known to have been marketed in Australia in the early 20th century by the former Gembrook Nursery, but no examples are known to survive.

Notable trees[edit]

Notable examples survive, either courtesy of their isolation from diseased stock, as at Queens' College, Cambridge, where two are 44 m (144 ft) in height (2009), or annual inoculation with fungicide, as at Chapelfield Gardens, Norwich.[10] The Queens' College elms, believed to have been planted in the early 19th century, were reproduced in 2009 from cuttings by the National Trust as part of its Plant Conservation Programme, the young trees being distributed in 2017 to various Cambridge colleges and the University Botanic Garden, among other recipients.[11] DNA testing by the forestry research team at Roslin in 2013 confirmed that the supposed Chichester Elms in Bedfordshire and Norwich are the same clone as the Queens' trees.[7]


The tree was almost certainly named for Chichester Hall, where it originated. During the 16th century, the hall was the home of the Andrewes family, one of whom, Lancelot, became Bishop of Chichester (1605 - 1609).[7]


  • U. campestris var. Cicestria: W. A. & J. Mackie, Norwich, Catalogue, 1812, p. 59.[12]
  • U. cicestria : George Lindley, Norwich, catalogue, 1801.[13]
  • U. Cicestriensis : George Lindley, Norwich, catalogue, 1815.[14]




  1. ^ Richens, R. H. (1984). Elm. Cambridge University Press.
  2. ^ Green, Peter Shaw (1964). "Registration of cultivar names in Ulmus". Arnoldia. Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University. 24 (6–8): 41–80. Retrieved 16 February 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c Smith, Richard I. (November 2006). "The Chichester Elm" (PDF). The Tree Register Newsletter: 7.  & Smith, R.I. (2006). Looking for the Chichester Elm. The Professional Gardener No. 112, July , 2006.
  4. ^ Little, J.E. (1923). "The Huntingdon Elm". Journal of Botany, British and Foreign. 61: 201. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  5. ^ Oliver Rackham, A History of the Countryside (London, 1986)
  6. ^ Hadfield, M. (1969). A history of British gardening. Spring Books, London. ISBN 0-600-01788-5
  7. ^ a b c Smith, Richard (2014). "The Elms in the grove". Queens' College Record: 28–29. Retrieved 7 December 2016. 
  8. ^ Lindley, John; Pursh, Frederick; Donn, James (1823). Hortus cantabrigiensis (10 ed.). London: C and J Rivington. p. 93. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  9. ^ Loudon, John Claudius (1838). Arboretum et fruticetum Britannicum. 3. p. 1404. 
  10. ^ Huntingdon Elm Chapel Field Society: Huntingdon Elm « Chapel Field Society, accessdate: 16 November 2016
  11. ^ Stephen Tyrrell, 'Locations of Queens' College micropropagated elm saplings' (Queens' College, Spring 2017).
  12. ^ Mackie, W.A.; Mackie, J. (1812). A catalogue of forest trees. Norwich. p. 59. 
  13. ^ Lindley, George (1801). A catalogue of forest trees, fruit trees, evergreen and flowering shrubs, kitchen garden and flower seeds (PDF). Catton near Norwich. pp. 34–35. 
  14. ^ Lindley, George (1815). A catalogue of forest trees, fruit trees, evergreen and flowering shrubs, kitchen garden and flower seeds (PDF). Catton near Norwich. p. 37. 

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