Extinct elm tree rediscovered at queen's Edinburgh residence

October 6, 2016, 8 a.m.
Two Wentworth elms, thought to be gone from the United Kingdom, have been identified at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
Photo: FCG/Shutterstock

A tree species thought to no longer exist in the United Kingdom was discovered in plain sight at a well known location: the queen's garden at Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland.

The two specimens identified aren't small trees tucked away in some dark corner of the garden; they are huge 100-foot Wentworth elms, Ulmus wentworthii pendula, standing right out in the open. One of the trees is pictured here, standing apart from the other trees of the garden.

The Guardian reports:

Scientists say the Wentworth elm was most likely introduced to cultivation in the late 19th century but it was thought to have been wiped out in the devastating Dutch elm disease epidemic, which destroyed up to 75m UK trees during the late 20th century... Alan Keir, Holyrood park and gardens manager for Historic Environment Scotland (HES), which maintains the palace gardens, said: “When RBGE got in touch to ask if we could facilitate a walk round the gardens to find cultivars for propagation, we were happy to help – but certainly didn’t expect them to find these rare specimens hidden in plain sight."

Now that the two trees have been identified, curators are now looking into the history of when the trees were planted and how to propagate them.