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Ulmus campestris L., nom. ambig.

Modern name

Ulmus glabra Huds.

It is now almost universally accepted that the name U. campestris L. should be abandoned as a source of confusion, but it has been so widely used until recently, and in so many different senses, that a note on it may not be out of place. In Species Plantarum (1753) Linnaeus describes three species of Ulmus, one being U. campestris. The other two, U. americana and U. pumila, are non-European, and there must therefore be a presumption that Linnaeus considered all the European elms to belong to a single species. If an attempt is made to ascertain which European species has the best title to the name, the evidence, such as it is, points in different ways. Under U. campestris, Linnaeus gives references to the works of his predecessors, and also to his Hortus Cliffortianus, where further references are given. These references on the whole support the argument that U. campestris is the proper name for U. carpinifolia, the common field elm of Europe, and the name has been used by most continental botanists in this sense. But in Britain the name has in the past been applied consistently to the English elm, U. procera, and with good reason. In Flora Anglica, a work written by Linnaeus and published only one year after the Species Plantarum, U. campestris L. is identified with the Ulmus vulgatissima folio lato scabro of Ray’s Synopsis (1724), and this is undoubtedly the English elm. Only a few authorities have used U. campestris for the wych elm, U. glabra, yet this is the species that perhaps has the best title to the name, for it is the species with which Linnaeus was acquainted in his native Sweden, and is the only elm species represented in his herbarium.

Thus three European species – U. glabra, U. carpinifolia and U. procera – have some title to the name U. campestris L., and all have been so called by one authority or another. The name is therefore ambiguous and a permanent source of confusion. See further in Dr Melville’s paper published in Journ. Bot. (Lond.), Vol. 76 (1938), pp. 261-5.



Other species in the genus