Elm is a natural mutant of Scotland’s native wych elm. It was
discovered by chance around 1835 by the Earl of Camperdown’s head forester
David Taylor, who transplanted the tree to the grounds of Camperdown House on
the outskirts of Dundee where it still survives. Unlike surrounding elms it has
not succumbed to Dutch elm disease, perhaps because of its small stature or
contorted habit; its bizarre branch structure has been likened to a living
sculpture. Its flower buds open in spring, though it cannot reproduce from seed.
However it has been widely propagated from cuttings, usually grafted onto wych
elms, and many examples were planted in Britain and America, satisfying the Victorian
passion for curiosities.