Walk along the Springsnow elm tree route of Amsterdam

Walk along the Springsnow elm tree route of Amsterdam

Apr 21, 2024May 21, 2024

Springsnow is the magical natural phenomenon that symbolises the true start of Amsterdam’s spring, when the elm trees unleash their seeds in a flurry of white blossoms, twirling down like confetti thrown to greet the sun.

The elm - the signature tree of Amsterdam

The elm is the signature tree of Amsterdam, much like the linden trees in Berlin, or the plane trees of Paris. With more than 75.000 elm trees throughout the city, Amsterdam could be called the elm capital of the world. For centuries, elm trees have defined Amsterdam’s cityscape. They are even part of a very important and historic UNESCO World Heritage Site: the canal district of the historical city centre.

Since there are over 75.000 elm trees in the greater Amsterdam region, of which there are over 40 elm species, it's such an impressive number that it's the equivalent of a forest, perhaps! In the inner city, where the Springsnow route lies, there are over 5.000 elms. The elm tree species found in Amsterdam include Wych elm (Ulmus glabra), Huntingdon’s elm (Ulmus x Hollandica "Vegeta"), Dutch / Belgian elm (Ulmus x Hollandica "Belgica") and Amsterdam elm (Ulmus Amsterdam).

Dutch elm disease

Though elm trees are such an iconic part of Amsterdam's identity, elm trees in most parts of Europe and North America were ravaged by Dutch elm disease (DED) in the 20th century. The disease gained its name with "Dutch" in the title, as it was identified by Dutch botanists Bea Schwarz and Christina Johanna Buisman in the 1920s.

DED is caused by a fungus that is transmitted by two types of beetle. DED-resistant cultivars were developed as early as 1928 in the Netherlands, and that's why we are fortunate to have the majestic elms lining the picturesque canals of Amsterdam today!

Follow the elm route

You can follow the eight-km-long elm route, and catch glimpses of the spring snow. Go cycling along the route if you wish, but for the best experience, take in the elm trees on foot. Swish your feet through mounds of elm seeds and try to catch some in your hands as they fall gently downwards in the air.

The route starts at the elm arboretum, next to the EYE museum, and runs through many streets and parks, such as the Hortus Botanicus, one of the world’s oldest botanical gardens. Famous canals on the route include Prinsengracht, Herengracht and Keizersgracht.

Visit the online hubs dedicated to Amsterdam's elm trees

Who'd have thought such a natural phenomenon would have such a dynamic digital component! Find out about elm species on the Amsterdam elm tree map devised by the Dutch capital's municipality. It gives detailed information about exact species, locations and the size of the tree trunks. 

Check out the Springsnow website, to read the information in English about the Springsnow experience and how you can immerse yourself in it this spring. If you want to feel like a part of the drifting experience, attach a message to a Springsnow seed at the Digital Poetree and track where the wind carries it!