Scotland’s national tree – wych elm?

The Scottish Government is considering whether Scotland should have its own national tree, and if so, what species should be chosen.

The iconic Scots pine is an obvious choice for this accolade but there are other candidates so we’ve invited advocates for six different species to give the case for their tree.

In the first of a series of guest blogs on Woodland Matters, Max Coleman from the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh and author of Wych Elm explains why he is backing this adaptable survivor for the honour of Scotland’s national tree.

“Wych elm is a strong candidate for Scotland’s most useful tree. The reason it is not better known today is that most of the uses have become unnecessary or are now carried out with other materials. The list includes wooden wheel hubs, water mains, bows and arrows, keels of wooden ships, bell stocks, water wheels, fodder for livestock, and, most famously, coffins.

elm treeThe iconic Highland scenery that is so much a part of Scotland includes the wych elm. On richer soils in Highland glens the wych elm grows as pockets of woodland on crags and as large trees along burns and field boundaries. Well-grown it is a true forest giant, but being hardy it is also found as stunted horizontal trees in exposed northerly locations.

elm fruitThe loss of many elms to Dutch elm disease has meant that furniture makers have rediscovered wych elm as a native hardwood with exquisite grain that can make quality furniture. In northern and western parts of Scotland the beetles that carry the fungal disease seem to struggle and Scotland’s wych elms are internationally important in a European context. The wych elm is an adaptable survivor and worthy of the title of Scotland’s national tree.”

How do you feel about wych elm as Scotland’s national tree? You can have your say in the public consultation until 3rd December, and please do leave a comment below.

We’ll be posting more guest blogs featuring other candidates every Friday for the next few weeks…

Rory Syme, PR and Communications Officer Woodland Trust Scotland


About Kaye Brennan

Trying vegan, staying warm. Occasional bursts of words.
This entry was posted in Campaigning, Climate Change, Consultation, Scotland and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Scotland’s national tree – wych elm?

  1. Bruce Gilliland says:

    I have voted for the Wych Elm which is totemic for me. I have planted them and sown them for the last 30 years. You don’t need to worry about Dutch elm disease it will eventually grow away from it and the elm will return again. However , its very unlikely its going to make the national tree! Bruce

  2. Ash says:

    I suppose “Scot’s pine” is a bit obvious so I’m looking forward to reading what others are saying. Will we have a chance to “vote” on this & then compare with the Scottish parliaments decision?

    • Rory Syme says:

      When we asked our supporters earlier in the year the response was firmly in favour of Scots pine, but this seemed like a great chance to talk about some of the other amazing tree species we have in Scotland. There are five more blogs to come every week between now and the end of November (including one on pine itself) so keep an eye out.

  3. This is a tree I knew little about and seems to be a strong candidate for a national tree.
    Others include the Rown

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