Ulmus glabra

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 Ulmus glabra subsp. var.  Scotch Elm, Wych Elm
Ulmus glabra horizontalis.jpg
Habit: tree
Height: to
Width: to
100ft 70ft
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Width: warning.png"" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. to 70 ft
Lifespan: perennial
Exposure: sun
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USDA Zones: 5 to 9
Sunset Zones:
Flower features:
Ulmaceae > Ulmus glabra var. ,

The Wych Elm Ulmus glabra Huds., or Scots Elm, is a large deciduous tree native to Europe, Asia Minor, and the Caucasus. Essentially a montane species, the tree occurs as far north as latitude 67°N at Beiarn in Norway and has also been successfully introduced to Narsarsuaq, near the southern tip of Greenland (61°N). The tree was by far the most common elm in the north and west of the British Isles, [1], and is now acknowledged as the only truly native species. Closely related species such as Bergmann's Elm U. bergmanniana and Manchurian Elm U. laciniata, native to north-east Asia, were once sometimes included in Ulmus glabra [2]. Another close relative is the Himalayan Elm U. wallichiana.

The Wych Elm sometimes reaches heights of 40 m, typically with a broad crown supported by a short bole < 2 m. d.b.h, and is notable for its very tough, supple young shoots. The leaves are deciduous, alternate, simple ovate or obovate with a lop-sided base, 6-17 cm long and 3-12 cm broad; the upper surface is rough. Leaves on vigorous shoots are sometimes three-lobed near the apex. The hermaphrodite flowers appear before the leaves in early spring, produced in clusters of 10-20; they are 4 mm across on 10 mm long stems and, being wind-pollinated, are apetalous. The fruit is a winged samara 20 mm long and 15 mm broad, with a single round 6 mm seed in the centre, maturing in late spring [3] [4].

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Ulmus glabra, Huds. (U. scabra, Mill. U. montana, With.). Wych Elm. Scotch Elm. Tree, to 120 ft., with spreading branches forming an oblong or broad round-topped head; without suckers: bark remaining smooth for many years (hence its Latin specific name): branches never with corky wings; young branchlets pubescent: buds obtuse, ciliate, and pubescent with yellowish brown hairs: lvs. very short-petioled and unequal at base, broadly obovate to oblong-obovate, abruptly acuminate or sometimes 3-lobed at the apex, sharply and doubly serrate, rough above, pubescent beneath, 3-6 in. long: fls. clustered; stamens 5-6, little exserted: fr. oval or roundish obovate, little notched at the apex, with the seed in the middle, 3/4 - 1 in. long. Eu. to Japan.—A variable species of which many forms are cult.: Var. grandidentata, Moss (U. scabra tricuspis, Koch. U. triserrata or tridens, Hort.). Lvs. 3-lobed at the apex, particularly on vigorous shoots: young branchlets pubescent, reddish brown in autumn. Var. crispa, Rehd. (U. montana crispa, Loud. U. crispa, Willd. U. aspleniifolia, Hort.). Slow-growing form with narrow lvs. incisely serrate with incurved twisted teeth. Var. atropurpurea, Rehd. (U. montana atropurpurea, Spaeth). Lvs. dark purple and folded. Var. lutescens, Rehd. (U. montana lutescens, Dipp.). Lvs. yellow. Var. rubra, Rehd. (U. campestris rubra, Simon-Louis. U. montana libro rubro, Planch.). Inner bark of the young branchlets deep red. Var. fastigiata, Rehd. (U. montana fastigiata, Loud. U. pyramidalis, Hort. U. plumosa pyramidalis, Hort. U. exoniensis, Hort. U. Fordii, Hort.). Columnar form with strictly upright branches: lvs. rather small, dark green, obovate, wrinkled above and somewhat twisted. Var. pendula, Rehd. (U. montana pendula, Loud. U. montana horizontalis, Kirchn.). Branches horizontally spreading forming a flat-topped head, branchlets pendulous. Var. Camperdownii, Rehd. (U. Camperdownii, Hort. U. montana pendula Camperdownii, Henry. U. montana pendula, Hort., not Loud.). Camperdown Elm. Figs. 3881, 3882. Branches and branchlets pendulous, forming a round head. Var. nana, Rehd. (U. montana nana, Simon-Louis). Dwarf slow-growing form with horizontal branches, stunted branchlets, and small lvs., forming a hemispherical bush. Forms of U. glabra are frequently planted in the East. CH

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.


The tree is moderately light-demanding, requires deep, rich soils, and is intolerant of flooding and prolonged drought [5]. Although rarely used as a street tree owing to its shape, it can be surprisingly tolerant of urban air-pollution, constricted growing conditions and severe pollarding, as evidenced by the survival of those in Tsimiski Avenue in central Thessaloniki, Greece.


Wych Elm does not sucker from the roots. Wych Elm is best propagated from seed, although softwood cuttings taken in early June will root fairly reliably. Propagation from hardwood cuttings is notoriously difficult, even under mist conditions.

Pests and diseases

While the species is highly susceptible to Dutch elm disease. [6] [7], it is less favoured as a host by the elm bark beetles which act as vectors.

In trials conducted in Italy, the tree was found to have a slight to moderate susceptibility to Elm Yellows, and a high susceptibility to the elm leaf beetle Xanthogaleruca luteola [4] [8].




  1. Richens, R. J. (1984) Elm, Cambridge University Press.
  2. Elwes, H. J. & Henry, A. (1913). The Trees of Great Britain & Ireland. Vol. VII. pp 1848–1929. Private publication, Edinburgh. [1]
  3. Bean, W. J. (1981). Trees and shrubs hardy in Great Britain, 7th edition. Murray, London.
  4. White, J. & More, D. (2003). Trees of Britain and Northern Europe. Cassell's, London
  5. CAB International (2005) Forestry Compendium. CAB International, Wallingford, UK
  6. Forestry Commission. Dutch elm disease in Britain, UK. [2]
  7. Brasier, C. M. (1996). New horizons in Dutch elm disease control. Pages 20–28 in: Report on Forest Research, 1996. Forestry Commission. HMSO, London, UK.[3]
  8. Mittempergher, L. & Santini, A. (2004). The History of Elm Breeding. Invest. Agrar.: Sist Recur For. 2004 13 (1), 161-177.

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