The TreeThe trees grow to a height of 36m to 45m and a diameter as great as 2.5m but since large-diameter trees are frequently unsound in the centre, a diameter of 1 m or slightly more is better commercially.
The TimberThe heartwood is a dull brown colour, clearly defined when green from the lighter-coloured sapwood. The irregular growth rings together with the cross-grained character of the wood gives it an attractive appearance, but the large early-wood pores produce a rather coarse texture. The timber of these species when grown on the Continent is generally of more even and uniform growth with straighter grain. English elm weighs about 560 kg/m3 and Dutch elm about 580 kg/m3 when dried.
DryingAlthough releasing its moisture fairly rapidly, there is a very marked tendency for the wood to distort, and there is some liability for collapse to occur in thick sizes. Care is therefore needed; sticks should be properly aligned, and tops of piles weighted down.
StrengthBoth English and Dutch elm have similar strength properties, and in general are some 30 per cent below the strength of oak, although Dutch elm is appreciably tougher than English elm, and it is also a much better wood for bending.
Working QualitiesMedium - Elm is basically a fairly difficult timber to work, tending to pickup during planing and moulding, and to bind on the saw. Its working properties are however governed to an extent by the care with which it was dried, distorted wood being wasteful in planing and moulding. Dutch elm is not quite as refractory, but both species can be finished to a clean surface with care. The wood can be glued satisfactorily, and can be stained, polished or waxed. It takes nails without splitting, and can produce a good decorative veneer.
Latin NameUlmus spp, Ulmus glabra, Ulmus procera, Ulmus hollandica var hollandica, Ulmus laevis, Ulmus carpinifolia
Also known asEuropean elm (Europe), smooth leaved elm, wych elm, English elm
OriginEngland, Wales, British Isles, Netherlands