Ulmus glabra
Common Name: wych elm
Type: Tree
Family: Ulmaceae
Native Range: Northern and central Europe, Asia Minor
Zone: 4 to 6
Height: 70.00 to 100.00 feet
Spread: 50.00 to 70.00 feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: Reddish-green
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Shade Tree, Street Tree, Rain Garden
Flower: Insignificant
Tolerate: Drought, Air Pollution

Culture

Grow in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerant of light shade. Prefers rich, moist loams. Adapts to both wet and dry sites. Generally tolerant of urban conditions.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Ulmus glabra, commonly called Scotch elm or Wych elm, is a large, wide-spreading, deciduous tree that typically grows to 70-100’ with a broad-rounded crown. It is native from Great Britain to Siberia. It was once widely planted in the U.S. as a shade tree for large lawns and parks, but is no longer used because of susceptibility to Dutch elm disease. Insignificant small reddish-green flowers appear in spring before the foliage emerges. Flowers give way to single-seeded wafer-like samaras (each tiny seed is surrounded by a flattened circular papery wing). Seeds mature in April-May as the leaves reach full size. Broad oblong-obovate to elliptic, rough-textured, dark green leaves (to 3-6” long) have acuminate tips, doubly toothed margins and asymetrical bases. Leaves typically turn an undistinguished dull yellow in fall. A magnificent specimen tree dating back to 1861 is located at the Missouri Botanical Garden next to Henry Shaw’s house.

Genus name comes from the Latin name.

Specific epithet means smooth, in probable reference to the fact that the bark of this tree is smoother than that of English elm (Ulmus campestris).

The name wych comes from Anglo Saxon meaning “with plant branching”.

Problems

Dutch elm disease, a fatal fungal disease spread by airborne bark beetles, attacks the water-conducting tissue of the tree, resulting in wilting, defoliation and death. Phloem necrosis is a disease caused by a phytoplasma that attacks the food-conducting tissue of the tree, usually resulting in a loosening of the bark, wilting, defoliation and death. Wetwood is a bacterial disease that results in wilting and dieback. Various wilts, rots, cankers and leaf spots may also occur. Insect visitors include borers, leaf miner, beetles, mealy bugs, caterpillars and scale.

Popular pendulous cultivars include ‘Camperdownii’ (topgrafted) and ‘Pendula’ (own roots or topgrafted).

Garden Uses

The species is rarely found in commerce. It could be used as a specimen for large lawns, but has disease susceptibility that makes planting it today a questionable proposition.