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Ulmus minor: Map


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Ulmus minor (Mill.) , the Field Elm, is by far the most polymorphic of the European species, although its taxonomy remains a matter of contention. Its natural range is predominantly south European, extending to Asia Minormarker; its northern outposts are the Balticmarker islands of Ölandmarker and Gotlandmarker, although it may have been introduced here by man . Current treatment of the species owes much to Richens , who sank a number of British elms as either subspecies or varieties in 1968. However, Melville , writing 10 years later, identified five distinct species, several varieties and numerous complex hybrids. In 1992, 14 years after Melville, Armstrong identified no fewer than 40 species and microspecies. Stace (1997) wrote of the British elms "The 2-species (glabra and minor) concept of Richens is not sufficiently discriminating to be of taxonomic value". It is hoped that analysis of molecular markers will ultimately eliminate the taxonomic confusion.Nevertheless, it is Richens’ classification which has been the most commonly adopted in recent years, although it is not used in Flora Europaea[278270] .


The tree typically grows to 30 m and bears a rounded crown. The leaves are generally elliptic, 11 cm long by 7.5 cm broad, with the asymmetric base and acuminate apex typical of the genus; the upper surface is coarse. The species readily produces suckers from roots and stumps, even after devastation by Dutch elm disease, consequently the genetic resources of the species are not considered endangered [278271].

Pests and diseases

Most trees are very susceptible to Dutch elm disease.


Owing to its susceptibility to Dutch elm disease, U. minor is now uncommon in cultivation.

Notable trees

The Biscarrosse Elm
tree reputedly over 650 years old survives in the centre of Biscarrossemarker south of Bordeauxmarker. Isolated amid the heaths and pine forests of the Landesmarker, it has remained undiscovered by disease-carrying beetles. The tree is a wreck; the trunk, almost 3m in diameter, completely hollow and supporting just a few heavily pollarded branches [278272].

Subspecies & varieties



North America


North America
None known




  1. Heybroek, H. M. (1981). The Japanese elm species and their value for the Dutch elm breeding program. Proceedings of the Dutch Elm Disease symposium and workshop. October 5-9, 1981, Winnipeg, Manitoba. pp 78-90
  2. Richens, R. H. (1968). The correct designation of the European field elms. Feddes Repertorium 79: 1-2.
  3. Melville, R. (1978). On the discrimination of species in hybrid swarms with special reference to Ulmus and the nomenclature of U. minor (Mill.) and U. carpinifolia (Gled.). Taxon 27: 345-351.
  4. Armstrong, J. V. & Sell, P. D. (1996). A revision of the British elms (Ulmus L., Ulmaceae): the historical background. Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 120: 39-50.
  5. Stace, C. A. (1997). New Flora of the British Isles. 2nd edition. Cambridge University Press.

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