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Male Fern Rhizome – Dryopteris crassirhizoma nakai

Male Fern Rhizome – Dryopteris crassirhizoma

Sources : Male Fern Rhizome is the dried rhizome and front bases of Dryopteris crassirhizoma Nakai. The drug is collected in autumn, pared off front and fibrous root, washed clean, dried in the sun.

Action: To remove heat, counteract toxicity, and expel intestina worms. Rhizoma Dryopteris Crassirhizomae (carbonized): to arrest bleeding.

Indications: Abdominal pain due to intestinal worm, sores.

Rhizoma Dryopteris Crassirhizomae (Carbonized): Abnormal uterine bleeding.

A fern is any one of a group of about 12,000 species of plants. Unlike mosses, they have xylem and phloem (making them vascular plants). They have stems, leaves, and roots like other vascular plants. Ferns do not have either seeds or flowers (they reproduce via spores).

By far the largest group of ferns are the leptosporangiate ferns, but ferns as defined here (also called monilophytes) include horsetails, whisk ferns, marattioid ferns, and ophioglossoid ferns. The term pteridophyte also refers to ferns (and possibly other seedless vascular plants; see classification section below).

Ferns first appear in the fossil record 360 million years ago in the Carboniferous but many of the current families and species did not appear until roughly 145 million years ago in the late Cretaceous (after flowering plants came to dominate many environments).

Ferns are not of major economic importance, but some are grown or gathered for food, as ornamental plants, or for remediating contaminated soils. Some are significant weeds. They also feature in mythology, medicine, and art.

Life cycle

Gametophyte (thalloid green mass) and sporophyte (ascendent frond) of Onoclea sensibilis

Ferns are vascular plants differing from lycophytes by having true leaves (megaphylls). They differ from seed plants (gymnosperms and angiosperms) in their mode of reproduction—lacking flowers and seeds. Like all other vascular plants, they have a life cycle referred to as alternation of generations, characterized by a diploid sporophytic and a haploid gametophytic phase. Unlike the gymnosperms and angiosperms, the ferns’ gametophyte is a free-living organism.

Life cycle of a typical fern:

  1. A sporophyte (diploid) phase produces haploid spores by meiosis.
  2. A spore grows by mitosis into a gametophyte, which typically consists of a photosynthetic prothallus.
  3. The gametophyte produces gametes (often both sperm and eggs on the same prothallus) by mitosis.
  4. A mobile, flagellate sperm fertilizes an egg that remains attached to the prothallus.
  5. The fertilized egg is now a diploid zygote and grows by mitosis into a sporophyte (the typical “fern” plant).

Fern ecology

Ferns at Muir Woods, California

The stereotypic image of ferns growing in moist shady woodland nooks is far from being a complete picture of the habitats where ferns can be found growing. Fern species live in a wide variety of habitats, from remote mountain elevations, to dry desert rock faces, to bodies of water or in open fields. Ferns in general may be thought of as largely being specialists in marginal habitats, often succeeding in places where various environmental factors limit the success of flowering plants. Some ferns are among the world’s most serious weed species, including the bracken fern growing in the British highlands, or the mosquito fern (Azolla) growing in tropical lakes, both species forming large aggressively spreading colonies. There are four particular types of habitats that ferns are found in: moist, shady forests; crevices in rock faces, especially when sheltered from the full sun; acid wetlands including bogs and swamps; and tropical trees, where many species are epiphytes (something like a quarter to a third of all fern species).

Many ferns depend on associations with mycorrhizal fungi. Many ferns only grow within specific pH ranges; for instance, the climbing fern (Lygodium) of eastern North America will only grow in moist, intensely acid soils, while the bulblet bladder fern (Cystopteris bulbifera), with an overlapping range, is only found on limestone.

The spores are rich in lipids, protein and calories and some vertebrates so eat these. The European woodmouse (Apodemus sylvaticus) has been found to eat the spores of Culcita macrocarpa and the bullfinch (Pyrrhula murina) and the short-tailed bat (Mystaina tuberculata) also eat fern spores.

Fern structure

Ferns at the Royal Melbourne Botanical Gardens

Tree ferns, probably Dicksonia antarctica, growing in Nunniong, Australia

Like the sporophytes of seed plants, those of ferns consist of:

  • Stems: Most often an underground creeping rhizome, but sometimes an above-ground creeping stolon (e.g., Polypodiaceae), or an above-ground erect semi-woody trunk (e.g., Cyatheaceae) reaching up to 20 m in a few species (e.g., Cyathea brownii on Norfolk Island and Cyathea medullaris in New Zealand).
  • Leaf: The green, photosynthetic part of the plant. In ferns, it is often referred to as a frond, but this is because of the historical division between people who study ferns and people who study seed plants, rather than because of differences in structure. New leaves typically expand by the unrolling of a tight spiral called a crozier or fiddlehead. This uncurling of the leaf is termed circinate vernation. Leaves are divided into three types:
    • Trophophyll: A leaf that does not produce spores, instead only producing sugars by photosynthesis. Analogous to the typical green leaves of seed plants.
    • Sporophyll: A leaf that produces spores. These leaves are analogous to the scales of pine cones or to stamens and pistil in gymnosperms and angiosperms, respectively. Unlike the seed plants, however, the sporophylls of ferns are typically not very specialized, looking similar to trophophylls and producing sugars by photosynthesis as the trophophylls do.
    • Brophophyll: A leaf that produces abnormally large amounts of spores. Their leaves are also larger than the other leaves but bear a resemblance to trophophylls.
  • Roots: The underground non-photosynthetic structures that take up water and nutrients from soil. They are always fibrous and are structurally very similar to the roots of seed plants.

The gametophytes of ferns, however, are very different from those of seed plants. They typically consist of:

  • Prothallus: A green, photosynthetic structure that is one cell thick, usually heart or kidney shaped, 3–10 mm long and 2–8 mm broad. The prothallus produces gametes by means of:
    • Antheridia: Small spherical structures that produce flagellate sperm.
    • Archegonia: A flask-shaped structure that produces a single egg at the bottom, reached by the sperm by swimming down the neck.
  • Rhizoids: root-like structures (not true roots) that consist of single greatly elongated cells, water and mineral salts are absorbed over the whole structure. Rhizoids anchor the prothallus to the soil.

One difference between sporophytes and gametophytes might be summed up by the saying that “Nothing eats ferns, but everything eats gametophytes.” This is an over-simplification, but it is true that gametophytes are often difficult to find in the field because they are far more likely to be food than are the sporophytes.

Evolution and classification

Ferns first appear in the fossil record in the early-Carboniferous period. By the Triassic, the first evidence of ferns related to several modern families appeared. The “great fern radiation” occurred in the late-Cretaceous, when many modern families of ferns first appeared.

One problem with fern classification is the problem of cryptic species. A cryptic species is a species that is morphologically similar to another species, but differs genetically in ways that prevent fertile interbreeding. A good example of this is the currently designated species Asplenium trichomanes, the maidenhair spleenwort. This is actually a species complex that includes distinct diploid and tetraploid races. There are minor but unclear morphological differences between the two groups, which prefer distinctly differing habitats. In many cases such as this, the species complexes have been separated into separate species, thus raising the number of overall fern species. Possibly many more cryptic species are yet to be discovered and designated.

Ferns have traditionally been grouped in the Class Filices, but modern classifications assign them their own phylum or division in the plant kingdom, called Pteridophyta, also known as Filicophyta. The group is also referred to as Polypodiophyta, (or Polypodiopsida when treated as a subdivision of tracheophyta (vascular plants), although Polypodiopsida sometimes refers to only the leptosporangiate ferns). The term “pteridophyte” has traditionally been used to describe all seedless vascular plants, making it synonymous with “ferns and fern allies”. This can be confusing since members of the fern phylum Pteridophyta are also sometimes referred to as pteridophytes. The study of ferns and other pteridophytes is called pteridology, and one who studies ferns and other pteridophytes is called a pteridologist.

Traditionally, three discrete groups of plants have been considered ferns: two groups of eusporangiate ferns—families Ophioglossaceae (adders-tongues, moonworts, and grape-ferns) and Marattiaceae—and the leptosporangiate ferns. The Marattiaceae are a primitive group of tropical ferns with a large, fleshy rhizome, and are now thought to be a sibling taxon to the main group of ferns, the leptosporangiate ferns. Several other groups of plants were considered “fern allies”: the clubmosses, spikemosses, and quillworts in the Lycopodiophyta, the whisk ferns in Psilotaceae, and the horsetails in the Equisetaceae. More recent genetic studies have shown that the Lycopodiophyta are more distantly related to other vascular plants, having radiated evolutionarily at the base of the vascular plant clade, while both the whisk ferns and horsetails are as much “true” ferns as are the Ophioglossoids and Marattiaceae. In fact, the whisk ferns and Ophioglossoids are demonstrably a clade, and the horsetails and Marattiaceae are arguably another clade. Molecular data—which remain poorly constrained for many parts of the plants’ phylogeny — have been supplemented by recent morphological observations supporting the inclusion of Equisetaceae within the ferns, notably relating to the construction of their sperm, and peculiarities of their roots (Smith et al. 2006, and references therein). However, there are still differences of opinion about the placement of the Equisetum species (see Equisetopsida for further discussion).

One possible means of treating this situation is to consider only the leptosporangiate ferns as “true” ferns, while considering the other three groups as “fern allies”. In practice, numerous classification schemes have been proposed for ferns and fern allies, and there has been little consensus among them. A new classification by Smith et al. (2006) is based on recent molecular systematic studies, in addition to morphological data. This classification divides extant ferns into four classes:

  • Psilotopsida (whisk ferns and ophioglossoid ferns), about 92 species
  • Equisetopsida (horsetails), about 15 species
  • Marattiopsida, about 150 species
  • Polypodiopsida (leptosporangiate ferns), about 9000 species

The last group includes most plants familiarly known as ferns. Modern research supports older ideas based on morphology that the Osmundaceae diverged early in the evolutionary history of the leptosporangiate ferns; in certain ways this family is intermediate between the eusporangiate ferns and the leptosporangiate ferns.

Cultural connotations

Blätter des Manns Walfarn. by Alois Auer, Vienna: Imperial Printing Office, 1853

Ferns figure in folklore, for example in legends about mythical flowers or seeds.[8] In Slavic folklore, ferns are believed to bloom once a year, during the Ivan Kupala night. Although alleged to be exceedingly difficult to find, anyone who sees a “fern flower” is thought to be guaranteed to be happy and rich for the rest of their life. Similarly, Finnish tradition holds that one who finds the “seed” of a fern in bloom on Midsummer night will, by possession of it, be guided and be able to travel invisibly to the locations where eternally blazing Will o’ the wisps called aarnivalkea mark the spot of hidden treasure. These spots are protected by a spell that prevents anyone but the fern-seed holder from ever knowing their locations.

“Pteridomania”‘ is a term for the Victorian era craze of fern collecting and fern motifs in decorative art including pottery, glass, metals, textiles, wood, printed paper, and sculpture “appearing on everything from christening presents to gravestones and memorials.” The fashion for growing ferns indoors led to the development of the Wardian case, a glazed cabinet that would exclude air pollutants and maintain the necessary humidity.

Barnsley fern created using chaos game, through an Iterated function system (IFS).

The dried form of ferns was also used in other arts, being used as a stencil or directly inked for use in a design. The botanical work, The Ferns of Great Britain and Ireland, is a notable example of this type of nature printing. The process, patented by the artist and publisher Henry Bradbury, impressed a specimen on to a soft lead plate. The first publication to demonstrate this was Alois Auer’s The Discovery of the Nature Printing-Process.

Medicinal Value

Ferns are sometimes used in medicine to treat cuts and clean them out. Ferns are also good bandages if you are stuck out in the wild. Rubbing a sword fern frond spore-side-down on a stinging nettle sting removes the stinging.

Misunderstood names

Several non-fern plants are called “ferns” and are sometimes confused with true ferns. These include:

  • “Asparagus fern”—This may apply to one of several species of the monocot genus Asparagus, which are flowering plants.
  • “Sweetfern”—A flowering shrub of the genus Comptonia.
  • “Air fern”—A group of animals called hydrozoan that are distantly related to jellyfish and corals. They are harvested, dried, dyed green, and then sold as a “plant” that can “live on air”. While it may look like a fern, it is merely the skeleton of this colonial animal.
  • “Fern bush”—Chamaebatiaria millefolium—a rose family shrub with fern-like leaves.

In addition, the book Where the Red Fern Grows has elicited many questions about the mythical “red fern” named in the book. There is no such known plant, although there has been speculation that the oblique grape-fern, Sceptridium dissectum, could be referred to here, because it is known to appear on disturbed sites and its fronds may redden over the winter.

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Monarda

Monarda

Monarda (bee balm, horsemint, oswego tea, or bergamot) is a genus consisting of roughly 16 species of erect, herbaceous annual or perennial plants in the Lamiaceae, indigenous to North America. Ranging in height from 1 to 3 feet (0.2 to 0.9 m), the plants have an equal spread, with slender and long-tapering (lanceolate) leaves; the leaves are opposite on stem, smooth to nearly hairy, lightly serrated margins, and range from 3 to 6 inches (7 to 14 cm) long. In all species, the leaves, when crushed, exude a spicy, highly fragrant oil. Of the species listed, M. didyma (Oswego Tea) contains the highest concentration of this oil. The genus was named for Nicolás Monardes who wrote a book in 1574 describing plants found in the New World.

Blackfoot

Menominee

Bee Balm

Uses : Several bee balm species (Monarda fistulosa and Monarda didyma) have a long history of use as a medicinal plants by many Native Americans including the Blackfoot, Menominee, Ojibwa, Winnebago and others. The Blackfoot Indians recognized the strong antiseptic action of these plants, and used poultices of the plant for skin infections and minor wounds. A tea made from the plant was also used to treat mouth and throat infections caused by dental caries and gingivitis. Bee balm is the natural source of the antiseptic Thymol, the primary active ingredient in modern commercial mouthwash formulas. The Winnebago used a tea made from bee Balm as a general stimulant. Bee balm was also used as a carminative herb by Native Americans to treat excessive flatulence. An infusion of crushed Monarda leaves in boiling water has been known to treat headaches and fevers.

Although somewhat bitter, due to the thymol content in the plants leaves and buds, the plant tastes like a mix of spearmint and peppermint with oregano, to which it is closely related. Bee balm was traditionally used by Native Americans as a seasoning for wild game, particularly birds. The plants are widespread across North America and can be found in moist meadows, hillsides, and forest clearings up to 5,000 feet in elevation.

Flowers, species, cultivars : Monarda species include annual and perennial upright growing herbaceous plants with lanceolate to ovate shaped leaves. The flowers are tubular with bilateral symmetry and bilabiate; with upper lips narrow and the lower ones broader and spreading or deflexed. The flowers are single or in some cultivated forms double, generally hermaphroditic with two stamens. Plants bloom in mid- to late summer and the flowers are produced in dense profusion at the ends of the stem and/or in the stem axils. The flowers typically are crowded into head-like clusters with leafy bracts. Flower colors vary, with wild forms of the plant having crimson-red to red, pink and light purple hues. M. didyma has bright, carmine red blossoms; M. fistulosa—the “true” wild bergamot—has smokey pink flowers. M. citriodora and M. pectinata have light lavender to lilac-colored blooms and have slightly decreased flower quantities. Both species are commonly referred to as “Lemon Mint.” There are over 50 commercial cultivars and hybrids, ranging in color from candy-apple red to pure white to deep blue, but these plants tend to be smaller than wild species, and often developed to combat climatic or pest conditions. Other hybrids have been developed to produce essential oils for food, flavoring, or medicine. “M. didyma” species can grow up to 6 feet tall. Seed collected from hybrids—as with most hybridized plants—does not produce identical plants to the parent. A number of hybrids also occur in the wild.

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Agrimoni – Agrimonia Pilos Ledeb

Agrimoni – Agrimonia Pilos Ledeb

Agrimony (Agrimonia) is a genus of 12-15 species of perennial herbaceous flowering plants in the family Rosaceae, native to the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, with one species also in Africa. The species grow to between 0.5-2 m tall, with interrupted pinnate leaves, and tiny yellow flowers borne on a single (usually unbranched) spike.

Agrimonia species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Grizzled Skipper (recorded on A. eupatoria) and Large Grizzled Skipper.

Species
  • Agrimonia eupatoria – Common Agrimony (Europe, Asia, Africa)
  • Agrimonia gryposepala – Tall Hairy Agrimony (North America)
  • Agrimonia incisa – Incised Agrimony (North America)
  • Agrimonia coreana – Korean Agrimony (eastern Asia)
  • Agrimonia microcarpa – Smallfruit Agrimony (North America)
  • Agrimonia nipponica – Japanese Agrimony (eastern Asia)
  • Agrimonia parviflora – Harvestlice Agrimony (North America)
  • Agrimonia pilosa – Hairy Agrimony (eastern Europe, Asia)
  • Agrimonia procera – Fragrant Agrimony (Europe)
  • Agrimonia pubescens – Soft Agrimony (North America)
  • Agrimonia repens – Short Agrimony (southwest Asia)
  • Agrimonia rostellata – Beaked Agrimony (North America)
  • Agrimonia striata – Roadside Agrimony (North America)

Medicinal value

Agrimony has a long history of medicinal use. The English poet Michael Drayton once hailed it as an “all-heal,” and through the ages it did seem to be a Panacea. The ancient Greeks used Agrimony to treat eye ailments, and it was made into brews to cure diarrhea and disorders of the gallbladder, liver, and kidneys. Anglo-Saxons made a solution from the leaves and seeds for healing wounds; this use continued through the Middle Ages and afterward, in a preparation called eau d’arquebusade , or “musket-shot water.”Later, agrimony was prescribed for athlete’s foot. In the United States and Canada, and late into the 19th century,the plant was prescribed for many of these illnesses and more: for skin diseases, asthma, coughs, and gynecological complaints, and as a gargling solution for sore throats.

Flolklore

Although the plant has no narcotic properties, tradition holds that when placed under a person’s head, Agrimony will induce a deep sleep that will last until removed.

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Virginia Creeper – Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Virginia Creeper – Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Virginia creeper, five-leaved ivy, or five-finger (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is a woody vine native to eastern and central North America, in southeastern Canada, the eastern and central United States, eastern Mexico, and Guatemala, west as far as Manitoba, South Dakota, Utah and Texas.

A woody, dedicuous vine, Virginia Creeper can be high-climbing or trailing, 3-40 ft.; the structure on which it climbs is the limiting factor. Virginia Creeper climbs by means of tendrils with disks that fasten onto bark or rock.

Its leaves, with 5 leaflets, occasionally 3 or 7, radiating from the tip of the petiole, coarsely toothed, with a pointed tip, and tapered to the base, up to 6 inches long.

Leaves provide early fall color, turning brilliant mauve, red and purple. Inconspicuous flowers small, greenish, in clusters, appearing in spring. Fruit bluish, about 1/4 inch in diameter.

Virginia Creeper can be used as a climbing vine or ground cover, its leaves carpeting any surface in luxuriant green before turning brilliant colors in the fall.

Its tendrils end in adhesive-like tips, giving this vine the ability to cement itself to walls and therefore need no support. The presence of adhesive tips instead of penetrating rootlets also means it doesnt damage buildings the way some vines do. It is one of the earliest vines to color in the fall. A vigorous grower, it tolerates most soils and climatic conditions.

In years past, children learned a rhyme to help distinguish Virginia Creeper from the somewhat similar-looking and highly toxic Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans): Leaves of three, let it be; Leaves of five, let it thrive.

Poison Ivy leaflets are normally in groups of three, while those of Virginia Creeper are in groups of five.

The berries of Virginia Creeper can be harmful if ingested, however, and the rest of the plant contains raphides, which irritate the skin of some people.

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Alisma

Alisma

Alisma is a genus of flowering plants in the family Alismataceae, members of which are commonly known as water-plantains. The genus consists of aquatic plants with leaves either floating or submerged, found in a variety of still water habitats around the world (nearly worldwide).

The flowers are hermaphrodite, and are arranged in panicles, racemes, or umbels. Alisma flowers have six stamens, numerous free carpels in a single whorl, each with 1 ovule, and subventral styles. The fruit is an achene with a short beak.

 

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Big Fruit Elm Fruit

Big Fruit Elm Fruit

Sources : Bigfruit Elm Fruit is the dried prepared fruit of Ulmus macrocarpa hance. or Ulmus pumila L. The drug is collected in summer when ripe, and the seeds are soaked in water until ferment, added elm bark flour, red soil, chrysanthemi flos powder and warm boiling water, mixed, cut into pieces, and dried.

Action : to kill parasite and remove food stagnancy.

Indications : Abdominal pain or infantile malnutrition due to intestinal parasitosis.

Elms are deciduous and semi-deciduous trees comprising the genus Ulmus, family Ulmaceae. Elms first appeared in the Miocene period about 40 million years ago. Originating in what is now central Asia, the tree flourished and established itself over most of the Northern Hemisphere, traversing the Equator in Indonesia. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, many species and cultivars were planted as ornamentals in Europe, North America, and parts of the Southern Hemisphere, notably Australasia.

Elm leaves are alternate, with simple, single- or, most commonly, doubly serrate margins, usually asymmetric at the base and acuminate at the apex. The genus is hermaphroditic, having perfect flowers which, being wind-pollinated, are apetalous. The fruit is a round wind-dispersed samara. All species are tolerant of a wide range of soils and pH levels but, with few exceptions, demand good drainage.

The other genera of the Ulmaceae are Zelkova (Zelkova) and Planera (Water Elm). Celtis (Hackberry or Nettle Tree), formerly included in the Ulmaceae, is now included in the family Cannabaceae.

Species, varieties and hybrids

Main articles: List of Elm species and varieties by common name, List of Elm species and varieties by scientific name, List of Elm cultivars, hybrids and hybrid cultivars, and List of Elm synonyms and accepted names

There are approximately 30 to 40 species of elm; the ambiguity in number is a result of difficulty in delineating species, owing to the ease of hybridization between them and the development of local seed-sterile vegetatively propagated microspecies in some areas, mainly in the field elm group. Rackham describes Ulmus as the most difficult critical genus in the entire British flora. Eight species are endemic to North America, and a smaller number to Europe; the greatest diversity is found in China.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, elm cultivars enjoyed much popularity as ornamentals in Europe by virtue of their rapid growth and variety of foliage and forms. This ‘belle époque’ lasted until the First World War, when the consequences of hostilities, notably in Germany whence at least 40 cultivars originated, and the outbreak of Dutch elm disease saw the elm slide into horticultural decline. The devastation caused by the Second World War, and the demise in 1944 of the huge Späth nursery in Berlin, only accelerated the process. The outbreak of the new, three times more virulent, strain of Dutch elm disease Ophiostoma novo-ulmi in the late 1960s brought the tree to its nadir.

Since circa 1990 however, the elm has enjoyed a slow renaissance through the successful development in North America and Europe (notably the Netherlands until 1992, and, more recently, Italy) of cultivars highly resistant to the new disease. Consequently, the total number of named cultivars, ancient and modern, now exceeds 300, although many of the older clones, possibly over 120, have been lost to cultivation. Unhappily, enthusiasm for the newer clones often remains low owing to the poor performance of earlier, supposedly disease-resistant Dutch trees released in the 1960s and 1970s. In the Netherlands, sales of elm cultivars slumped from over 56,000 in 1989 to just 6,800 in 2004, whilst in the UK, only four of the new American and European releases were commercially available in 2008.

In 1997, a European Union elm project was initiated, its aim to coordinate the conservation of all the elm genetic resources of the member states and, among other things, to assess their resistance to Dutch elm disease. Accordingly, over 300 clones were selected and propagated for testing.

The classification adopted for Elm species, varieties, cultivars and hybrids is largely based on that established by Brummitt. A large number of synonyms have accumulated over the last three centuries, their Accepted Names can be found on Elm Synonyms and Accepted Names.

Cultivation and uses

Wych Elm leaves and seeds

Elm wood was valued for its interlocking grain, and consequent resistance to splitting, with significant uses in wheels, chair seats and coffins. The density of the wood varies due to differences between species, but averages around 560kg per cubic metre. The wood is also resistant to decay when permanently wet, and hollowed trunks were widely used as water pipes during the medieval period in Europe. However this resistance to decay in water does not extend to ground contact.

Elms also have a long history of cultivation for fodder, with the leafy branches cut for livestock. Elm bark, cut into strips and boiled, sustained much of the rural population of Norway during the great famine of 1812. The seeds are particularly nutritious, comprising 45% crude protein, and < 7% fibre by dry mass.

From the 18th century to the early 20th century, elms were among the most widely planted ornamental trees in both Europe and North America. They were particularly popular as a street tree in avenue plantings in towns and cities, creating high-tunnelled effects. Their tolerance of air-pollution and the comparatively rapid decomposition of their leaf-litter in the fall were further advantages. In North America the species most commonly planted was the American Elm Ulmus americana, which had unique properties that made it ideal for such use: rapid growth, adaptation to a broad range of climates and soils, strong wood, resistance to wind damage, and vase-like growth habit requiring minimal pruning; In Europe, the Wych Elm U. glabra and the Smooth-leaved Elm U. minor var. minor were the most widely planted in the countryside, with the former in northern areas (Scandinavia, northern Britain), and the latter further south. The hybrid between these two, Dutch Elm U. × hollandica, occurs naturally and was also commonly planted. In England, it was the English Elm Ulmus procera which came to dominate the landscape. Most commonly planted in hedgerows, the English Elm sometimes occurred in densities of over 1000 per square kilometre; indeed such was its ubiquity it almost always featured in the landscape paintings of John Constable. In Australia, large numbers of English Elms, as well as other species and cultivars, were planted as ornamentals following their introduction in the 19th century.

In parks and gardens, from about 1850 to 1920 the most prized small ornamental elm was the Camperdown Elm, Ulmus glabra ‘Camperdownii’, a contorted weeping cultivar of the Wych Elm grafted on a standard elm trunk to give a wide, spreading and weeping fountain shape in large garden spaces.

Pests and diseases

Elm flowers

Many species of Lepidopteran larvae (butterflies and moths) use elm as a food plant; see list of Lepidoptera that feed on elms. In Australia, introduced elm trees are sometimes used as foodplants by the larvae of hepialid moths of the genus Aenetus. These burrow horizontally into the trunk then vertically down.

Dutch elm disease

Dutch elm disease devastated elms throughout Europe and North America in the second half of the 20th century. It is caused by a micro-fungus transmitted by two species of Scolytus elm-bark beetle which act as vectors. The disease affects all species of elm native to North America and Europe, but many Asiatic species have anti-fungal genes and are resistant. Fungal spores, introduced into wounds in the tree caused by the beetles, invade the xylem or vascular system. The tree responds by producing tyloses, effectively blocking the flow from roots to leaves. Woodland trees in North America are not quite as susceptible to the disease because they usually lack the root-grafting of the urban elms and are somewhat more isolated from each other. In France, inoculation of over three hundred clones of the European species with the fungus failed to find a single variety possessed of any significant resistance.

The first, less aggressive strain of the disease fungus, Ophiostoma ulmi, appeared in Europe in 1910 and had spread to North America by 1928, but declined in the 1940s. The second, far more virulent strain of the disease Ophiostoma novo-ulmi was identified in Europe in the late 1960s, and within a decade had killed over 20 million trees (approximately 75%) in the UK alone. Approximately three times more deadly, the origin of the new strain remains a mystery; earlier believed to have been endemic to China, surveys there in 1986 found no trace of it, although bark beetles were common. The most popular hypothesis is that it arose from a hybrid between the original O. ulmi and another strain endemic to the Himalaya, Ophiostoma himal-ulmi.[14]

While there is no sign of the current pandemic waning, there is some hope in the susceptibility of the fungus to a disease of its own caused by d-factors: naturally occurring virus-like agents that can severely debilitate it and reduce its sporulation.

Owing to its geographical isolation and effective quarantine enforcement, Australia has so far been unaffected by Dutch Elm Disease, and as such retains many stands of English Elms; the long avenues of Royal Parade and St Kilda Road in Melbourne, and Grattan Street in Carlton, Victoria, are three examples.

The provinces of Alberta and British Columbia in western Canada are also free of Dutch Elm disease. Aggressive means are being taken to prevent any occurrences of the disease in these two provinces. In fact, Alberta has the world’s largest stands of elms unaffected by the disease, and many streets and parks in Edmonton and Calgary are still lined with large numbers of healthy mature trees.

The city of Brighton & Hove on the South Coast of England has retained a high proportion of its Elms. In the 1970s the Parks and Gardens departments of the two towns (since amalgamated into one city) pursued a vigorous policy of spotting and clearing infected elms, which is continued today within the designated “Elm Disease Management Area”. Among the many trees thus preserved are several magnificent examples in and around the Royal Pavilion Gardens.

Resistant trees

Efforts to develop resistant cultivars began in the Netherlands in 1928 and continued, uninterrupted by World War II, until 1992. Similar programmes were initiated in North America (1937), Italy (1978), and Spain (1990s). Research has followed two paths:

1. Hybrid cultivars

Owing to their innate resistance to Dutch elm disease, Asiatic species have been crossed with European species, or with other Asiatic elms, to produce trees highly resistant to disease and tolerant of native climates. After a number of false dawns in the 1970s, this approach has produced a range of fine cultivars now commercially available in North America and Europe.  However, some of these trees, notably those with the Siberian Elm U. pumila in their ancestry, will probably have a comparatively small mature size and lack the forms for which the iconic American Elm and English Elm were prized. Moreover, several of these trees exported to northwestern Europe have proven unsuited to the maritime climate conditions, notably because of their intolerance of ponding on poorly drained soils in winter. Dutch hybridizations invariably included the Himalayan Elm U. wallichiana as a source of anti-fungal genes and have proven more tolerant of wet ground; they should also ultimately reach a greater size. A number of highly resistant cultivars have been released since 2000, notably ‘Nanguen’ (Lutèce).

2. Species and species cultivars

In North America, careful selection has produced a number of trees not only resistant to disease, but also the droughts and extremely cold winters afflicting the continent. Research in the USA has concentrated on the American Elm U. americana, resulting in the release of highly resistant clones, notably ‘Valley Forge’. Much work has also been done into the selection of Asiatic species and cultivars. In Europe, it is the unique example of the European White Elm Ulmus laevis which has received the most attention. Whilst this elm has little innate resistance to Dutch elm disease, it is not favoured by the vector bark beetles and thus only becomes colonized and infected when there are no other choices, a rare situation in western Europe. Research in Spain has suggested that it may be the presence of a triterpene, alnulin, which makes the tree bark unattractive to the beetle species that spread the disease. However this has not been conclusively proved.

Disclaimer

Elms take many decades to grow to maturity, and as the introduction of these cultivars is relatively recent, their long-term performance and ultimate size cannot be predicted with certainty. However, the National Elm Trial has been underway since 2005 as a large-scale scientific effort to assess strengths and weaknesses of the leading cultivars over a 10-year period.

Notable elm trees

The Biscarrosse Elm, France, planted 1350

  • Sherwood Forest — the “Langton Elm” was a large tree that “was for a long time so remarkable as to have a special keeper”, according to a book published in 1881.
  • The Biscarrosse Elm. Planted in 1350, this Smooth-leafed Elm Ulmus minor subsp. minor survives in the centre of Biscarrosse in the Landes region of south-west France, well isolated from disease-carrying Scolytus beetles.
  • Oxford — “Joe Pullen’s Tree” was planted in about 1700 by the Rev. Josiah Pullen, vice president of Magdalen Hall. Josiah Pullen “used to Walk to that place every day, sometimes twice a day”, according to diarist Thomas Hearne. The famous essayist Richard Steele (1672–1729) said his regular walks as an undergraduate to the elm with Pullen helped him to reach a “florid old age”. The elm became famous at Oxford and its fame grew with its age. In November 1795, Gentleman’s Magazine reported that “Joe Pullen, the famous elm, upon Headington hills, had one of its large branches torn off and carried to a great distance.” When new parliamentary district boundaries were drawn after the Reform Act 1832, the tree was named as a landmark helping to mark the boundary of the Parliamentary Borough of Oxford. In early 1847, the owner of the property arranged to have the tree torn down, and work started on it before protests put an end to the plan. By 1892, however, rot had set in, and the tree was torn down to its (large and tall) “stump”. Early in the morning of October 13, 1909, vandals set fire to the stump. A plaque was soon after installed on the side wall of Davenport House in Cuckoo Lane, marking the spot. It reads[30]: Near this spot stood the famous elm planted by the Rev. Josiah Pullen about 1680 and known as Jo Pullen’s Tree. Destroyed by fire on 13 October 1909.

    “Herbie”, New England’s oldest and tallest elm, prior to its spread being reduced in 2008

  • “Herbie” in Yarmouth, Maine, stood by present-day East Main Street (Route 88) from 1793-2010. At 110 feet in height, it was believed to be, between 1997 and the date of its felling, the oldest and tallest of its kind in New England. The tree, which partially stood in the front yard of a private residence, also had a 20-foot circumference and (until mid-2008) a 93-foot crown spread. As of 2003, only twenty of Yarmouth’s original 739 elms had survived Dutch elm disease. In August 2009 it was revealed that, after battling fifteen bouts of Dutch elm disease, the tree had lost, and on January 19, 2010 it was cut down.

    Penn and Indians with treaty under the elm

  • The “Treaty Elm” — In what is now Penn Treaty Park, the founder of Pennsylvania, William Penn, is said to have entered into a treaty of peace with native Indians under a picturesque elm tree immortalized in a painting by Benjamin West. West made the tree, already a local landmark, famous by incorporating it into his painting after hearing legends (of unknown veracity) about the tree being the location of the treaty. No documentary evidence exists of any treaty Penn signed beneath a particular tree. On March 6, 1810 a great storm blew the tree down. Measurements taken at the time showed it to have a circumference of 24 feet (7.3 m), and its age was estimated to be 280 years. Wood from the tree was made into furniture, canes, walking sticks and various trinkets that Philadelphians kept as relics.
  • The Liberty Tree on Boston Common that was a rallying point for the growing resistance to the rule of England over the American colonies.
  • The Great Elm on Boston Common, supposed to have been in existence before the settlement of Boston, at the time of its destruction by the storm of the 15th of February 1876 measured 22 ft. in circumference.Cambridge, Massachusetts — George Washington is said to have taken command of the American Continental Army under “the Washington Elm” in Cambridge on July 3, 1775. The tree survived until the 1920s and “was thought to be a survivor of the primeval forest”. In 1872, a large branch fell from it and was used to construct a pulpit for a nearby church. The tree, an American White Elm, became a celebrated attraction, with its own plaque, a fence constructed around it and a road moved in order to help preserve it. The tree was cut down (or fell — sources differ) in October 1920 after an expert determined it was dead. The city of Cambridge had plans for it to be “carefully cut up and a piece sent to each state of the country and to the District of Columbia and Alaska,” according to The Harvard Crimson. As late as the early 1930s, garden shops advertised that they had cuttings of the tree for sale, although the accuracy of the claims has been doubted. A Harvard “professor of plant anatomy” examined the tree rings days after the tree was felled and pronounced it between 204 and 210 years old, making it at most 62 years old when Washington took command of the troops at Cambridge. The tree would have been a bit more than two feet in diameter (at 30 inches above ground) in 1773. In 1896, an alumnus of the University of Washington, obtained a rooted cutting of the Cambridge tree and sent it to Professor Edmund Meany at the university. The cutting was planted, cuttings were then taken from it, including one planted on February 18, 1932, the 200th anniversary of the birth of George Washington, for whom Washington state is named. That tree remains on the campus of the Washington State Capitol. Just to the west of the tree is a small elm from a cutting made in 1979.
  • Washington, D.C. — George Washington supposedly had a favorite spot under an elm tree near the United States Capitol Building from which he would watch construction of the building. The elm stood near the Senate wing of the Capitol building until 1948.
  • Brown University — “Elmo”, a large elm which “once defined the Thayer Street entrance to Brown’s new Watson Institute for International Studies” on the campus of the Providence, Rhode Island school, contracted Dutch Elm disease and was torn down in December 2003, according to a campus news release. The tree “was thought to have been between 80 and 100 years old. Wood from the tree, one of the largest on campus, was used in various student art projects.
  • Association Island — the General Electric think tank organization, the Elfun Society, founded in 1928 at Association Island in the Thousand Islands area of northern New York state, is named after a “famous” elm tree on the 65 acre isle. The tree died in the 1970s, but it survives in the elm tree logo still used by Elfun.
  • Philipsburg Elm – 280 year old 30 meter elm in Philipsburg, Quebec, dubbed “the king of elms”, which was cut down in March 2009 after death from Dutch elm disease.
  • University of Georgia — “The MooCoo Tree,” which stands in front of Theta Chi Fraternity, is one of the only Dutch Elm trees east of the Mississippi. Students are known to engage in the “MooCoo Challenge,” which consists climbing into the Elm and consuming twelve beers before coming down. New Haven, Connecticut had the first public tree planting program in America, producing a canopy of mature trees (including some large elms) that gave New Haven the nickname “The Elm City”. This later gave rise to the Yale song, Neath the Elms.

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