Wych Elm Tree

Other names - Ulmus glabra, Scots elm

There are only three known individuals of original trees in Foxley, and two of these are in fact in Sherwood Oaks Field, at the pond end, near the path up and down between the kissing gates. The one in the wood itself is just below the top path about mid way along. We have planted a number of whips, in sunnier areas both around the field margins and in areas that were coppiced below the bottom path. They are especially valued because Elms are the host plant for the White Letter Hairstreak [WHL] butterfly, which with the demise of almost all Elms has become very rare. Though susceptible to Dutch Elm disease, they have the same terpinoid chemical [though less of it] in their bark that makes them unpalatable to the bark beetle as the European White Elm, Ulmus laevis .

The butterflies like to be around a sunlit upper canopy, and have been observed on the two in the field so the Friends felled two large Ash trees in the field that were overshadowing them, and we may fell another. They do not naturally regenerate well, they do not sucker from roots like other Elms and the seed which is produced in spring after early flowering is only viable for a few days. They have probably survived in Foxley because of their relative isolation from other Elms, though recently one of our butterfly recorders found a whole row of them in nearby Foxley Road. A visiting expert from Butterfly Conservation also recently [2019] found WHL eggs on twigs of one of the trees in the field, to our delight.

Written by Anthony Mills, Dip.Hort[RHS]; Tech Arbor.A.. Arboricultural Advisor for Friends of Foxley.

Read more about the Wych Elm here