It's not widely known - but Exeter does have it's own Elm tree! The cultivar 'Exoniensis' is the Exeter elm and is lovely to see in both young and old trees. It was discovered in 1826 and propagated by the Ford & Please nursery in Exeter. There isn't a great deal of information about the Exeter elm but I have completed a full 12 month study to help understand this beautiful type of Elm. There is a young Exeter elm on the Cathedral green of Exeter.
Like most species of Elm the Exeter elm is decidious which means it sheds it's leaves during the colder months. The leaf fall is particularly stunning and with deep yellows flooding the ground. In it's young years the Exeter elm is narrow and upright but as it matures it bushes outwards. They can grow up to 30m and live for 200+ years in the right conditions.
In mature trees the bark is grey-brown and develops fissures
The twigs are slightly hairy and the buds are quite short and stubby
The bark is fairly smooth and grey to begin with in younger trees.. In mature trees the bark is more grey-brown and develops fissures. The branches tend to be quite low to the ground making it look more like a large bush rather than a tree! In most cases they are pruned / lifted so the lower part of the canopy is removed. Quite often the dead branches are shed by the tree without any warning. This is why (in the olden days) people who would camp out beside a tree were warned never to setup camp under an Elm tree. The buds are quite stubby and are alternately arranged. The leaves are very large and can be up 16cm long by 8cm wide.
As the tree matures it spreads out and the lower canopy can be quite close to the ground
The flowers are in bloom between March and April and are wind pollinated
The flowers of Exeter elm are very easy to miss as most people mistake them for young leaves. The flowers begin to show around the middle of March and carry on through to the end of April. They are red-purple in colour and grow in small clusters of up to 20. They are spaced out along the twigs and small branches. Elms are hermaphrodite, meaning that both male and female reproductive parts are contained within each flower. The female part of the flower will then develop into a winged papery samara which contains one seed per samara. Both the flowers and fruit (samaras) are pollinated and spread by the wind.
The leaves are toothed and around 10–16cm in length, which is larger than most Elm species. They have a characteristic asymmetrical base and taper to a sudden point at the tip
The female flowers mature into papery winged fruit called samaras. The seed is located in the center