Have you ever asked yourself which came first, the Badger or the Elm? No? Well anyway the answer is the Elm because you have to go past the Elm trees to get to the Badger sett that I am watching.
These are Elms and the Badger sett is right in the corner of the field on the left. The very last trees are actually a Hazel and I don’t think that you can see it but there is a Hawthorn on the very end of the row, the rest are Elm.Elm trees are probably the hardest of all trees to get to species and so I can not be sure exactly which species these are but the most likely option is Wych Elm, the only Elm that we are certain is native to Britain.
English Elm is thought to be an introduced species. Of all the Elm species English Elm was the one with least resistance to Dutch Elm Disease and there are very few of them left.
There are about forty other Elm species, nobody can actually agree on how many species there are because they hybridise freely, (two different species produce a tree that is neither of it’s parents) and it is a very confusing genus. To make matters worse since the outbreak of Dutch Elm Disease men have created hundreds of cultivars whilst trying to make a disease resistant one.
These are just Elm Trees and we are very lucky to have them.
I only saw these trees in April and that is a pity because they had already flowered and I missed that. By the time I found them they were in fruit and young leaves were opening up
The fruits are pretty distinctive.
They are called Samara and that just means a winged seed, the little helicopter seeds that fall from Maples are also samara. Their design is meant to carry them far from the tree but with the weather we were having in April most of them seemed to be falling straight down to the floor.
The leaves are beautifully green but that alone isn’t always enough for a positive identification, you should pay attention to the shape and particularly the way the two sides of the leaf don’t meet the stalk evenly, they are slightly offset and that is a feature of Elm trees.My plan when I came up to look at the Badger sett was to climb one of these trees to watch the Badgers, I was thinking of them as still being quite bare.
It is not really possible to write about Elm trees without mentioning Dutch Elm Disease. It didn’t come from The Netherlands (They identified it) and it is not specific to Dutch Elms, it attacks all Elm species. It came from the USA in the 1960’s although I should mention that they caught it, a weaker strain, from us 30 years earlier.
It is a fungus introduced into the trees by Elm Bark Beetles. In the first decade it killed twenty million trees about 75% of our Elm trees today it is estimated to have killed 25-30 million trees and there are not many left.
Small trees like this remain in hedgerows because the disease doesn’t kill the tree roots and they can regrow but they don’t get much bigger than this. These trees are not very likely to be immune or especially resistant.
The disease is still rife and spreading into Scotland and there was a major outbreak here again in 2010, it hasn’t gone away.
Still it is lovely to have them here on the farm.
This tree has grown around and engulfed an old iron fence that is now a part of the tree.
And this is when I realise that it is now half past ten and I have to be up at four (I saw rabbits in the garden this morning) I need to wind this up. There is much more to this beautiful tree but then I have to write about it again when I see it in flower.
Ulmus the Elm