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Scots Elm Tree - A Sensory Experience

Updated: Feb 15, 2021

I really do find that spending time in nature is always therapy for me. It's a chance to connect with the natural world as well as grounding myself with the calmness.

Today I'm taking a bit of time to take in the wonders of the natural world as I walk up through the woods in Linn Park to find our Scots Elm or Wych Elm as it's known. I've chosen this tree to look at today as it is real sensory experience.

It's early morning and the sun is breaking through the clouds, the light and shade glimmers and cascades through the canopy of leaves above me in all their subtle tones of greens.

Activity Idea - Sit Spot

This is lovely activity to do to foster our connections with nature. It's so simple - just take some time to sit in one spot in the woods. I like to find a tree and sit against it. Even just for a few minutes, it's amazing what you can see and hear. Seeing the many different leaves, the mosses, the wildflowers, and dropped seeds. The spider wandering across it's web. Closing my eyes heightens the other senses and I can hear birds near and far, spotting the blue-tits as they fly close repeatedly to help themselves to the Elm Seeds. I take in the earthy smell of the woods, grasses, bark and start to single out the different noises the trees are making as the wind flows through their leaves. Wonderful!

The Scots Elm

This is a resilient, determined, and hardy survivor of a tree! Elms generally have been in decline due to Dutch Elm Disease (a fungal infection carried by a beetle). The Scots Elm is hardier than most and although rare we still see it in good numbers in the NW of Scotland.

This tree is unique for several reasons and if you check a tree identification guide under 'similar species' it says "none". I always feel so happy to see it.

Have a look at our video or identification traits below to see what to look out for to spot this special tree.

The Leaves

The leaves are unique as they are asymmetric (most leaves are symmetrical). This means they are bigger on one-side than the other or unequal. They are also quite large and toothed with tapered points. A beautiful green, they have hairs on both sides of the leaf which when touched is rough to the feel like sandpaper.

The Bark

The bark of a mature tree is quite brown with deep vertical cracks - its very rough to touch. A younger tree is more grey and smooth.

The branches are the other way round with a mature trees branches grey and the younger tree branches brown.

The Seeds

The Elms seeds are very visible just now. The are light green, flat papery round pods in clusters with the seed inside. The birds love them as a food source. They are falling off the tree like snow at the moment with lots lying on the ground to look at too. Other Elm species produce new trees through suckers that grow off their root systems, but the Scots Elm doesn't and new trees only grow from the seeds it sows.

So that is our sensory journey around the Scots Elm tree. The rough hairy unequal leafs, cracked brown bark and papery light green seed pods to look out for. Finally the shape of the tree - historically Elms could be giants that lived for over 500 years but now it is much rarer to see older trees, however mature trees can be as tall as 40 meters and have several prominent trunks rising from one stout bole.

It's been a real pleasure to be out in the woods this morning, I hope you all manage to get out and spend time in the wonder of nature too this week.

Take care folks!



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