A ‘super tree’ from Northamptonshire which has avoided catching Dutch elm disease for 40 years has been chosen to help re-populate Britain’s woodlands.
The large elm tree, which is in south Northamptonshire, has managed to avoid catching the killer tree disease since it swept across Britain in the 1970s.
Scientists do not know why the tree was apparently immune to the disease, but they have decided to take cuttings from it and send them across the country.
David Shreeve, from The Conservation Foundation, said: “We want to find out why some trees survived Dutch elm disease.
“So many have disappeared over recent years that we can only hope to replace some.
“But rather than just give up and forget the elm, we think it’s worth a try.”
Saplings propagated from the Northamptonshire elm are being distributed to schools and community groups across the country.
The project is part of The Great British Elm Experiment, a nationwide scheme run by The Conservation Foundation to unlock the mystery of why some elm trees survived Dutch elm disease.
Schools in Northampton, Corby, Peterborough and Rugby are already taking part, having received their elm saplings. The health of the saplings is now being monitored closely by schools, groups and individuals.
More than a thousand saplings, including ones taken from other rare trees which have avoided Dutch elm disease, have so far been distributed. To find out more about the project visit www.conservationfoundation.co.uk