Camperdown elm (Ulmus glabra 'Camperdownii')

North fringe of Bird Sanctuary Map

On the northern fringe of the Bird Sanctuary one encounters this curious little tree. Short, with a confused mass of horizontal shoots atop a blunt trunk, in winter it suggests an abandoned Bonzai experiment. In spring and summer it presents a dense, nearly impenetrable, pendulous carpet of large, unmistakably elm-like leaves, giving rise to one of its nicknames, the "umbrella tree."

The Camperdown elm is a naturally occurring variety of the common English Wych elm. It first appeared at Camperdown House, near Dundee, Scotland, in 1850, and since has been planted widely in Europe and North America. Normally it is grown as a topgraft on the trunk of another elm, presumably Ulmus glabra. In much of North America the elm population is being systematically decimated by Dutch elm disease (a fungus), which, despite its name, originated in Central Asia. Some varieties of elm, including the Camperdown elm, have significant resistance to this blight, which, for now, has not reached Washington State.

Old Camperdown elms are known to reach a height of 30 ft., with an equal spread, making them truly commodious umbrellas.