Elm

Of the three main varieties (and many more crosses) of elm in the British Isles only the wych elm (Ulmus glabra) is native to Scotland. Unlike its English cousins, it grows from seed rather than by cloning. This makes it genetically more diverse, which gives it a degree more resistance to Dutch elm disease. This scourge is till taking out trees in northern counties, although in the south of Scotland the epidemic seems to be abating. Young elms are noticeably living past the 14 or so years they tended to last when the disease was at its height.

Wych elm will grow on most well drained and fertile mineral soils. Providing you do not live in an area where Dutch elm disease is still rampant, it can again become part of a mixed planting. It is wise, however, to space individual trees well so that if one becomes infected it will not automatically infect neighbouring trees via their root systems. Elm is fairly light demanding, so is suited more to woodland edges than deep within plantings. It roots well, so the stems are reasonably wind-tolerant, even though boughs of older trees are easily shed.

Elm at Blackford Glen – Edinburgh

Elm is highly desirable as a wood as it is durable and the grain is often decorative. Burr-elm is much sought for use in furniture and turning. The boards are renowned for warping so it is not often used in construction, although in the past it was famously used for coffins. When well dried elm makes good firewood, although it can be difficult to split.

Pollen samples from Rottom Bottom at Carrifran show that Elm was present 9000 years ago. In 1999, wych elm was present in Moffatdale but not at Carrifran, since then wych elm has been planted on the middle and lower slopes of the valley.