Sunday, 23 July 2017
I can't claim to be an expert on elms. I am just old enough (wrong side of 40) to remember my father felling mature trees during the early 1980's as a result of Dutch Elm disease, but have no memory of them as a major tree in the landscape. It wasn't until I moved to Peterborough in the 2000's that I had my first experiences of mature elm trees. Huntingdonshire remains blessed with a fair number of mature elms, most of which are tall stately trees that I have interpreted to date as Small-leaved Elm (Ulmus minor subsp. minor) in the broad sense, as per current British convention.
However, on last Sunday's trip down to Grafham Water (VC31) I found a notable concentration of a very distinct elm that did not match my understanding of the above species to date. Several mature trees are present at Perry, being notable for their short height (less than 20m), broad spreading and twisting limbs, and most strikingly dense epicormic growth over all major limbs. Of course all leaves suitable for ID were firmly out of reach. After a couple of hours digging around, I have come to the tentative conclusion that these trees seem to be a reasonable match (based on limited descriptions) of trees known previously as Coritanian Elm (Ulmus coritana). If so, it is notable to find mature survivors. Regardless of the ID they are a distinctive part of the surviving variety of mature trees in the county.