English elm

English Elm

©Philip Precey

English elm

Scientific name: Ulmus minor
Due to the devastating effects of Dutch elm disease in the 20th century, the English elm is rarely found as large tree, but is more common as a shrub along hedgerows, or sometimes in woodlands.

Species information


Height: 16-30m

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


Mature English elms were once common on the rich, farmed soils of middle England, but are now rarely found as trees and are more common as hedgerow shrubs. This decline is a likely result of the ravaging effects of a recent wave of Dutch elm disease which has affected all of the UK's elms, killing many mature trees and preventing new trees from growing. Despite its name, the English may well have been introduced into the UK during the Bronze Age, or may only be native in Southern England.

How to identify

Elms can be recognised by their asymmetrical, oval leaves that are toothed around the edges and have very short stalks; they also produce winged fruit. The English elm has smaller, rounder leaves than Wych elm.


Widespread but scattered distribution in England and Wales.

Did you know?

Historically, elms have been regularly associated with death, perhaps due to their readiness to drop massive branches without warning, or due to the use of their wood for coffins.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts record and monitor our local wildlife to understand the effects of various factors on their populations, such as disease. You can help with this vital monitoring work by becoming a volunteer - you'll not only help local wildlife but learn new skills and make new friends along the way.