Normally the Wych Elm Ulmus glabra produces flowers in March and fruit in April before the leaves. This year the fruit is already on the tree in early March. The fruit is bright green when formed but turns yellow and is shed in May and June. The Wych Elm is native to Britain and recognised by its very large leaves. It grows well in upland areas and is common in Scotland. It is susceptible to Dutch Elm Disease but isolated old trees or clumps of trees still survive. It is the mature elm you are most likely to see.
This photo shows a Wych Elm tree in March.
At first sight the tree appears to be in leaf but, as this close-up photo shows, the branches are actually covered in fruit which is in the form of winged seeds called samaras.
A close-up of a cluster of flowers at the end of March. The flowers come out before the leaves. The flowers of all Elms are wind pollinated so do not have colourful petals to attract insects. There are 8 to 10 flowers in each cluster. Each flower has male and female parts. The male dark red anthers stick out from the female ovary which can’t be seen in this photo. The anthers split open to release pollen onto the wind before the female stigmas are receptive to avoid self-pollination. There are usually 4 anthers per flower.
Close-up of the fruit which has formed from the ovary 3 weeks later. At the tip of each flat fruit are the remains of the 2 pink styles. The seeds of the wych elm are surrounded by a flat wing to help wind dispersion. A winged seed of this type is called a samara by botanists. Photo taken in mid April.
Fruit in April
Fruit in June