The cultivation of elms in Australia began in the first half of the 19th century when European settlers imported species from their former homelands. Owing to the demise of elms in the northern hemisphere as a result of the Dutch elm disease pandemic, the mature trees in Australia's parks and gardens are now regarded as amongst the most significant in the world.
The hybrid variety Dutch Elm (Ulmus x hollandica) and related cultivars are the most commonly seen elms in Australia. Cultivars include 'Major', 'Dauvessei', 'Vegeta', 'Wredei' and another known as 'Purpurascens'. English Elms (Ulmus procera) were a popular tree for park and avenue planting in the nineteenth century. One of the oldest known exotic trees in Victoria is the sole survivor of four planted in the newly established Royal Botanic Gardens in 1846.
Although elms in Australia exist far away from their natural habitat and associated pest and disease problems, a few problematic insect species have managed to infiltrate Australia's strict quarantine defences . The Elm Leaf Beetle was first discovered on the Mornington Peninsula in 1989 and had spread to the City of Melbourne by 1991. The beetles have caused significant damage to elm species since that time, although the City of Melbourne keeps them in check with a regular spraying regime.
Unlike most other countries that have elm trees, Australia has not yet been subjected to Dutch Elm Disease, although the vector of the disease, the Elm Bark Beetle, was first officially recorded in Melbourne in 1974. The City of Melbourne and the Victorian State Government have jointly developed a Dutch elm disease contingency plan in case of an outbreak.
This post is part of the Friday Greens meme.