UK's great Elm tree survivors: TLC fended off Dutch Elm disease in Brighton and Queen's Holyrood residence

Tony Gosling tony at
Fri Oct 7 11:26:06 BST 2016

Anyone know of any other surviving Elms?
Secret locations? Photos please to this list ;-)
Tony G

Trees thought to be extinct in UK found at Queen's residence in Edinburgh

100ft Wentworth elms were ‘hidden in plain sight’ 
and spotted during recent tree survey at Holyrood Palace
One of the Wentworth elms next to the palace
Tuesday 4 October 2016
Trees believed to have been extinct in Britain 
have been discovered at the Queen’s official 
residence in 
The two 30-metre (98ft) Wentworth elms have been 
identified in the Queen’s garden at the Palace of 
Holyroodhouse just a stone’s throw from the 
Tree experts are now looking into ways of 
propagating the rare specimens, which carry the 
botanical name Ulmus wentworthii pendula.

Max Coleman, of the Royal Botanic Garden 
Edinburgh (RBGE), identified the mature trees 
after they were noted as being unusual during a tree survey.
“Such a discovery when the trees in question are 
just shy of 100ft and in plain sight does sound 
rather odd,” he admitted. “It is very likely the 
only reason these rare elms have survived is 
because Edinburgh city council has been surveying 
and removing diseased elms since the 1980s.
“Without that work many more of the thousands of 
elms in Edinburgh would have been lost. The 
success of this programme may be partly 
demonstrated in the way two rare trees have been preserved.”
The trees grow with a “weeping” appearance and have large glossy leaves.
Scientists say the Wentworth elm was most likely 
introduced to cultivation in the late 19th 
century but it was thought to have been wiped out 
in the devastating Dutch elm disease epidemic, 
which destroyed up to 75m UK trees during the late 20th century.
While the palace trees have been identified, it 
is not yet clear where the two specimens came from.
Curators and archivists at the royal household 
and RBGE are now working to find out more about their origins.
One theory is that the trees arrived at Holyrood 
from RBGE and survived while their botanic garden sibling died.
Archives already show that three Wentworth elms 
arrived at the botanic garden from Germany in 
1902, after which all subsequent records refer to 
a single tree at the garden. The single Wentworth 
elm died in 1996 when it succumbed to Dutch elm disease.
Coleman said: “It is very tempting to speculate 
that the Wentworth elms at the palace are the two missing trees from RBGE.
“There is anecdotal evidence that the young trees 
could have come into RBGE, then been grown-on 
before planting-out in their final positions.
“Certainly, there was a close relationship 
between the palace and the garden in the early 
20th century and the head gardener at Holyrood, 
William Smith, had trained here.
“Although we have no record here of elms going 
out, we know that a large number of ivy plants 
went from here to Holyrood to plant round the abbey ruins.”
Alan Keir, Holyrood park and gardens manager for 
Historic Environment Scotland (HES), which 
maintains the palace gardens, said: “When RBGE 
got in touch to ask if we could facilitate a walk 
round the gardens to find cultivars for 
propagation, we were happy to help – but 
certainly didn’t expect them to find these rare 
specimens hidden in plain sight.
“The HES gardens team have undertaken careful 
maintenance of these specimens over the past 
several years, including crown reduction and 
limb-bracing works, and we’re proud to help look 
after the only remaining examples of these trees in Britain.”

How Brighton beat the Dutch Elm menace
Last Updated: Friday, 11 November 2005, Tanya Gupta  BBC News, South East
There is a wide variety of Elms around the city, 
most notably at 
Park, Shirley Drive, Carden Hill and 
Level. These sites include many species such as 
English, Jersey and Cornish Elms.


Two elms in Preston Park are said to be the oldest in Europe

At first glance the two hollow elm trees in 
Brighton's Preston Park may appear old but ordinary.
Yet, standing majestically at 30ft tall, they 
prove the success of a vigorous campaign by 
experts to defeat a deadly plague that almost 
wiped out Britain's elm population.
More than 30 million specimens across the country 
were lost to Dutch Elm Disease which hit Britain in the 1970s.
That Brighton's parks and Georgian streets still 
have 15,000 elms is testament to the efforts of a 
team of council tree experts who refused to yield to its ravages.
And while many people have forgotten about this 
voracious disease, council arboriculturist Rob Greenland remains vigilant.
This summer, one of the elms in Preston Park had 
to be felled after it bore the hallmarks of the disease.
Council officers remain on guard against the pest 
and keep watch for tell-tale yellow mottling on 
the leaves - although, despite August's incident, new cases are rare.
Since the epidemic 30 years ago, elms are now 
restricted to a stronghold on the South Coast.
Brighton boasts the nation's largest stock of elm 
cultivars and varieties, and Mr Greenland says 
the species can display widely differing habits.
But all members of the elm family can be 
distinguished by their purple flowers in early 
spring and their asymmetrical leaves that have a long and a short lobe.
The city's Edwardians and the Victorians planted 
about 25,000 elms, a species that copes well with 
coastal exposure and the salt in the wind.
Mr Greenland, who has looked after the city's 
tree stock since the late 1960s, said when the 
disease began to hit in the 1970s: "We were not willing to just roll over."
He said Brighton and Hove, then two separate 
towns, were in a position to tackle Dutch Elm 
Disease because it was a small urban area - 
compared with large, rural counties such as Kent 
where trying to control the fungus would have been an enormous undertaking.
The disease was transmitted by beetles which 
munched through infected bark and passed on the 
fungus before being further spread by the trees' linked root system.

Mr Greenland with four varieties of elm in the background

Elms have many different habitats but are recognisable by their leaves

By 1971, Southampton had suffered large losses 
but Brighton officers seized the chance to learn.
"We looked at all the places that already had the 
disease and identified mistakes that we then didn't make," Mr Greenland said.
Unlike neighbouring Southampton, they chose not 
to inject trees because chemical controls only 
worked for a short time. Instead Brighton tree 
experts found it more effective, and cheaper, to prune out the fungus.
Officers also avoided setting bait traps for elm 
bark beetles in the middle of the city because 
they simply attracted bugs into the centre. Traps 
were instead set at the outskirts.
And they asked the council to pay for the 
treatment, or felling, of privately-owned elms.
Mr Greenland said: "Politicians took a very brave 
step in using public money to pay for private trees.

Elm leaf

Elms flower early and have purple blossom in March
Seeds appear before the leaves
The leaves are asymmetrical with a long and short lobe

"Someone facing a bill for taking a tree down might not tell us.
"And while we dealt with our own trees, it wasn't 
happening quickly enough in private gardens, 
which was undermining local projects."
He said: "In the really heady years, when we were 
losing lots of trees, the public were fantastic and there was a campaign.
"The campaigners were sometimes in a position to 
push politicians more than the officers.
"It was happening all over and it wasn't just us, 
and in some ways our 700 losses a year was better 
than the 3,000 or 4,000 losses in someone else's rural area.
"So it seemed to be worthwhile - and we had the 
conviction that we were always going to win." 
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So much emphasis is placed on select Jewish participation in Bormann 
companies that when Adolf Eichmann was seized and taken to Tel Aviv 
to stand trial, it produced a shock wave in the Jewish and German 
communities of Buenos Aires. Jewish leaders informed the Israeli 
authorities in no uncertain terms that this must never happen again 
because a repetition would permanently rupture relations with the 
Germans of Latin America, as well as with the Bormann organization, 
and cut off the flow of Jewish money to Israel. It never happened 
again, and the pursuit of Bormann quieted down at the request of 
these Jewish leaders. He is residing in an Argentinian safe haven, 
protected by the most efficient German infrastructure in history as 
well as by all those whose prosperity depends on his well-being.
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