A Giant Secret in Queen's Garden: 2 'Extinct' Trees

Few knew how to identify rare Wentworth elms
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 4, 2016 12:21 PM CDT
A Giant Secret in Queen's Garden: 2 'Extinct' Trees
A Wentworth elm.   (RBGE)

Botanists were sure that the Wentworth elm had gone extinct as part of a mass die-off of elm trees in the UK in the 1970s. Soaring 100 feet in the air in the garden of none other than Queen Elizabeth was proof to the contrary. Two botanists say they've identified two "weeping" trees standing in the Queen's garden at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Scotland as Wentworth elms, thought to have been eradicated by Dutch elm disease some 20 years ago. The trees, apparently missed by scientists, are actually some of the most photographed trees at the palace, reports the BBC. However, Max Coleman of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh explains Wentworth elms were so rare before they were thought to be extinct that few knew how to point them out.

"Such a discovery when the trees in question are just shy of 100 feet and in plain sight does sound rather odd," Coleman says in a release, per Gizmodo. But "if you pull your tree book off the shelf to try and look them up, you won't find Wentworth elm listed in the books." The Queen's Wentworth elms might have come from the RBGE; records show it received three from Germany in 1902, but only one was mentioned in later records. It died in 1996. No matter their source, Coleman credits Edinburgh for keeping the trees alive. After millions of elms were killed, the city council began removing diseased elms to protect those remaining, Coleman says. "Without that work many more of the thousands of elms in Edinburgh would have been lost." (This is Europe's oldest tree.)

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