The Great British Elm Search
A citizen-science initiative to fight tree disease and uncover the importance of the elm
The UK still has a large number of mature elms and with the help of the country's citizen-scientists we are building an accessible, public database that records the state of the elm population and potentially disease-resistant trees for researchers.
Elm sightings can be logged by uploading photographs of the tree (leaves, bark, shape) with its location and as much other information as possible.
Postings are being moderated by a number of elm experts and researchers who will identify the species, including Peter Bourne supporter of the National Elm Collection in Brighton.
Cuttings taken from mature trees from across the UK that appear to have resisted Dutch elm disease for over 60 years have been micro propagated. Since 2009, over 3,000 of these native saplings have been distributed to schools, community groups, local authorities and private landowners who have signed up to take part in The Great British Elm Experiment.
"We want to interest a new generation in the elm, so much a feature of the British life and landscape for centuries and also to try and find out why some trees survived Dutch elm disease."
- David Shreeve, Director
Height, girth, wildlife, signs of disease and other data is being recorded as part of this long-term experiment. It is hoped that in time a new generation of elms will become established throughout the UK and a new generation of young people will be encouraged to value the elms and with it the importance of biodiversity more broadly. The project also heralds hope for wildlife like the White-letter hairstreak butterfly which relies on the habitats elms create.
Elm conference: Presentations from an elm conference in June 2016, supported by The Conservation Foundation, can be viewed here. Also, see the presentations on the conference page of the 2015 Brighton seminar, as well as our Sussex elm booklet.
Online map: In London, you can also explore some of the capital's elm heritage by following a short tour of some of central London's elms with the mobile-friendly website An elm adventure from Somerset House to "Albertopolis".
Activity sheets: One-page sheets aimed at Key Stage 2 classes are available that give information and activity ideas on how elms are used by humans, in nature, and literature and art. You can also find videos on our YouTube page.
Where can I source elms?
The public planting phase of The Great British Elm Experiment has ended and we are no longer able to supply elm trees, with only small trial plantings continuing.
Various nurseries can supply the native wych elm (Ulmus glabra), such as Alba Trees. Non-native but resistant elms are available from suppliers including Hillier Trees. You may also want to browse the back of this report by Butterfly Conservation of resistant elm suppliers. The Resistant Elms website may also be able to help provide resistant cultivars. You can also find a short checklist on propagating elms here.