Back from the dead

It may seem too early for Halloween, but this news doesn’t involve zombies or ghosts. This comes after the discovery of a species of tree thought to have been extinct was found alive in the UK.

The Wentworth Elm (Ulmus Wentworthii Pendula) was thought to have gone extinct during the last century due to Dutch elm disease, an epidemic that started in Europe and swept across North America and New Zealand. It resulted in France losing 90% of its elm trees, and had devastating effects on elm populations in the UK. To prevent further losses, trees were cultivated to be genetically resistant to the fungus that causes the disease.


You can imagine it was much to botanists’ surprise to find two Wentworth elms, 100 ft high, alive and healthy in Queen Elizabeth II’s garden in the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. How can someone overlook two giant trees? Well, it was during a survey of the grounds that two scientists noticed the unusual trees. This species of elm has never been a common, widely known tree. And since the loss of all the trees during the 1970’s, there hasn’t been many elm experts in the UK.


Dr. Max Coleman of the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh

The existence of these elms is thanks to the efforts of the local council and their work surveying and removing infected trees. Botanists are now concerned with the future of the species. Propagation of the two specimens could lead to a population being established and dispersed around Europe for everyone to enjoy. 

There are plenty of opportunities to take a trip to a park, to see what nature has to offer in Dublin, even if they don’t feature the rare Wentworth elm.

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