The European White Elm (Ulmus laevis) is native to Europe, but natural populations are not found in England. It is thought that there was a larger natural population in Spain than there is today, and that this may be where the European population originated. Other names for it are Fluttering Elm and Spreading Elm, while the name Russian Elm is used in the USA.
The European White Elm is a tall tree, commonly growing greater than 30 metres, with quite an asymmetric branch structure. Its leaves are thin, papery, and smooth on top. It sheds these for the winter, and then in early spring, before the leaves reappear, the tree sprouts wind-pollinated flowers with long stems. It is also quite hardy, being one of few elms that can endure low oxygen and waterlogged conditions for a length of time.
The European White Elm, although just as susceptible to Dutch Elm Disease (DED) as other elm trees, is rarely affected by it in western Europe. The one we have near the cafe in the Pavilion Gardens has been around since 1940, standing strong and healthy, and continues to display its flowers for us when Spring rolls around again.