I purchased property with a beautiful tree in the garden. This tree needs heavy pruning but I afraid to do so before knowing what is it and how to approach that.

I tried to google it and the closest match I found seem to be an 'elm tree'. Is that right? Does anyone here can recognise and give more details?

The only extra details:

  • does not produce (visible) flowers,
  • location: Northern Europe (Denmark)
  • the picture was taken in a growing season (it looses leaves for winter)

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Most recent pictures / out of season (23 February 2019). You can see that tree is waking up to life:

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    Every tree produce flowers, maybe you didn't notice them: they could be small. Is this an old picture or it is evergreen? Commented Feb 21, 2019 at 9:28
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    Could you get a more close up photo of leaves and attachment? You can also make now a photo of branches and gems (close up). I would tend more into: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hornbeam Commented Feb 21, 2019 at 9:32
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    Need to know when this was taken, but I can say its not Elm (this tree has composite leaves, which Elm doesn't,and anyway, Dutch Elm disease has ensured mature Elms no longer exist) - Hornbeam is a contender,but only if this photo was taken during the growing season.
    – Bamboo
    Commented Feb 21, 2019 at 11:24
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    I prefer more close up. There is some brown between the leaves (which could be the fruits of hornbeam), but we need more. I have difficulties to see the attachment of the leaves and exactly how the veins are attached. I look the tree for near, so my brain will recognize more easily if I have some close-up. Also the gems are useful (so you can do now a photo. Brain in complex, and it doesn't work like a botanical key book. Commented Feb 21, 2019 at 11:39
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    @GiacomoCatenazzi- what do you mean by 'gems'? I know English is not your first language... 'gems' means precious stones (emerald, diamond and so on) in English...
    – Bamboo
    Commented Feb 21, 2019 at 13:06

2 Answers 2


I am an elm expert from the UK. I look after the National Elm Collection in Brighton and Hove. The tree you have is Ulmus minor 'Jacqueline Hillier' which was originally found by Hilliers & Sons in Hampshire, UK. It is still sold world wide and can become a big tree. Your tree is a very fine specimen indeed though I don't blame for being concerned about the graft. The graft issue on your tree is typical of the wrong stock (rooting base below the graft) for the scion (original branches of the species to adapt and grow more favorably on). If the scion does not find a suitable or faster growing stock then the scion will try to out grow the stock to root itself. At the moment seeing your tree in the pictures you included this doesn't seem to be an issue as yet but you may find the tree will have problems as it gets older. The concern at present is the imbalance of the crown over the small crooked bole.

You can form a cradle of support around the tree to support the limbs and weight of the crown on its fragile base. With great care and the help of others you can peg string lines from the major branches of the tree and use forked branch pieces to lift the weight underneath. This must be made very firm with great care before any attempt to prune the tree and some supports would be advised to be left in place so that the graft will not break should the trunk not grow to meet the weight of the crown (at the moment its a bit precarious). Then once supported you can consider carefully and somewhat slowly prune the tree. Despite all this I feel this is a very fine example of the Jacqueline Hillier elm indeed and can be a talking point with friends and visitors to your home. All the best, Peter Bourne, Volunteer Curator for the National Elm Collection, UK in Brighton and Hove)


You are right about suspecting an Elm (genus Ulmus) from you online searches. The leaves definitely resemble an Elm species. The large "knot" in the trunk with different bark above and below suggests that your tree is a grafted specimen as well.

I searched for "Elm" and "Grafted" and came up with one example: Ulmus glabra 'Camperdownii' which is a grafted "weeping" cultivar, so Elm trees can be grafted as such. Although I am not sure about the species involved in the tree you have, it does seem similar. I will leave a couple of links below that may lead you further in the right direction.

Your additional photos show early flower buds, and they do appear to be very similar to those of "Wych Elm" (Ulmus glabra) and also "English Elm" "Ulmus procera" (a synonym of Ulmus minor - a very "polymorphic" European elm). I have attached two additional links showing the flower buds, leaves, and seeds that may help you to further confirm your tree's identity.





  • Who grafts elms though??? Commented Feb 23, 2019 at 17:40
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    Ulmus glabra 'Camperdownii' is an example of a grafted elm. Apparently you can buy them and they are all grafted specimens. Not only can elms be grafted, but they are quite variable with respect to their form. Many elms also form natural hybrids easily, which further complicates things. However, the flower buds in the posted photos appear to be from an elm tree species.
    – user22542
    Commented Feb 23, 2019 at 17:46
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    @user22542 We've elms here in US, not Dutch AFAIK. Not quite so nice as the ones that used to make cathedrals of our streets, but definitely elmy. Didn't realize problem was severe enough elsewhere to require grating, especially as I like my elms 20 meters tall. <---Giacomo Catenazzi Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 18:23
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    The grafting is used to continue the ornamental elm variety. Yes, Dutch elm disease is everywhere. But, some trees continue to survive in isolated locations. I have an American elm in my front yard that is 15 meters tall and so far continues to evade the disease.
    – user22542
    Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 18:33
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    It should not be Ulmus glabra, because of colour of hairs, and flowers. I think it could be a Ulmus minor, which is more resitant to Durch disease (woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods/trees-woods-and-wildlife/…) Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 8:28

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