English elms were once a very common sight in the countryside of Europe, North America and Asia. However, this majestic tree was devastated by Dutch elm disease, a fungal infection that claimed an estimated 25 million trees in Britain alone. Sadly this iconic tree has now all but disappeared from the landscape. It will be remembered on rich farmland soils and parklands throughout the country, it is also a classic hedgerow tree of English lowlands. Mature English elms can grow to over 30 metres tall, producing a fine wood that has great strength and durability. They are deciduous trees that lose their leaves in the winter and the small winged seeds are dispersed by the wind in autumn.
Scientific name: Ulmus procera
Beetles carry a fungus that spelled the demise of millions of trees.
English elms were once one of Britain's most characteristic trees, used for making anything from boats and furniture to water pipes and coffins. Then, in the late 20th century, elms were devastated by a fungus that was accidentally introduced on a shipment of elm tree logs from North America. It spread throughout the country via elm bark beetles and killed an estimated 25 million trees changing the British landscape forever. Saplings grown from a single elm that survived the disease are now being studied by experts at Kew Gardens, in the hope that the secret of its survival can be identified and the species brought back.
The following habitats are found across the English elm distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
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