Frank P Matthews release elm resistant to Dutch Elm Disease

A new variety of elm that has shown the highest resistance to Dutch Elm Disease of all new hybrids is now being successfully propagated by Frank P Matthews' tree nursery in Worcestershire.

Developed by an Italian research team, the tree has been named Ulmus x ‘Wingham’ by elm enthusiast Dr David Herling who first planted it at Wingham village in Kent where it has produced over 1 metre of growth a year on the local alluvium soil.

This elm will also be a good habitat for the rare UK native White-letter Hairstreak butterfly (Satyrium w-album). Numbers of the butterfly declined dramatically in the late 1960s (after the first outbreak of the well documented lethal strain of DED) as they rely on Elm trees for breeding habitat. The planting of selected Elm hybrids has helped the butterfly to recover in recent years.

Frank P Matthews managing director Nick Dunn said: "Introducing this excellent new hybrid to the British countryside is an important step in wildlife conservation and underlines how essential trees are for the natural environment. It’s one of many special projects we undertake on the nursery to help encourage wider tree planting. We are also grateful for the support of Elm expert Andrew Brookes whose knowledge and guidance has been essential to this work."

Over 500 of the new elm trees have been produced for sale this autumn and there are plans to grow larger quantities next year to meet demand. Another Elm hybrid Ulmus LUTECE ‘Nanguen’, which also shows good resistance to Dutch Elm Disease  and hosts the White-letter Hairstreak butterfly, is already in production on the nursery and will be offered alongside Ulmus x ‘Wingham’.

Meanwhile, Hillier is reporting its disease-resistant Ulmus 'New Horizon' is selling well after being showcased at Chelsea Flower Show this May.

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