American elm

(Ulmus americana)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

American elm

NatureServe

N5? - Secure

SNR - Unranked

Minnesota

not listed

Wetland
Indicator
Status

Great Plains

FAC - Facultative

Midwest

FACW - Facultative wetland

Northcentral & Northeast

FACW - Facultative wetland

Nativity

Native

 
Occurrence

Common

 
Habitat

Moist. Deciduous forests, well-drained floodplains. Moderately shade tolerant.

 
Flowering

Early April to early mid-May

     
Flower Color

 

     
Height

50 to 70

     

Identification

This is a fast growing deciduous tree in the White Elm group. In Minnesota mature trees are usually 50 to 70 tall. Large individuals can reach up to 125 in height and 60 in diameter at breast height. It was once a long-lived tree, often reaching 200 years. However, the wilt fungus Dutch Elm Disease (Ceratocystis ulmi) usually kills most trees before they are 30 years old. Saplings are immune to the disease.

The trunk is buttressed at the base with prominent root flares. It extends to the base of the crown, dividing there into a few large, upright, spreading limbs. The branches are gracefully spreading and droop at the ends. The crown is broad and rounded or vase-shaped.

The bark on young trees is dark grayish-brown and corky, with broad, shallow, intersecting ridges. On older trees it is mottled ash gray, deeply furrowed, and sometimes scaly. In cross section outer bark shows alternating layers of white and reddish brown.

The twigs are brown, often zigzagging, and hairless or slightly hairy, with conspicuous lenticels. Older twigs are never corky. The buds are reddish-brown, somewhat flattened, pointed but not sharply pointed, and slightly hairy. The end bud is bent, other buds are pressed against the twig.

The leaves are deciduous, alternate, and simple, and are attached to the twig on a 3 16 long leaf stalk. The blades are thick, elliptic to egg-shaped, 2¾ to 5½ long, and 1 to 2¾ wide. They taper gradually to a point at the tip with straight or concave sides along the tip. The base is asymmetrical, rounded on one side, tapering on the other. The upper surface is dark green and smooth or slightly rough. The lower surface is paler green and slightly hairy, often fuzzy. The margins are doubly toothed from the tip to the base, the major teeth deeper and forward pointing. There are 15 to 20 prominent veins on each side of the central axis. The veins are straight and end in a large tooth. No more than 2 or 3 veins per side are forked. In the fall the leaves turn yellow.

The flowers have both male and female parts. They are borne in small, loose, tassel-like clusters on previous year’s twigs. They appear in early April to early mid-May before the leaves. They have no petals, 7 to 9 stamens with red anthers, and deeply-divided stigmas covered with short, white hairs. They are on to ¾ long flower stalks.

The fruit is a samara consisting of a dry, flattened, papery, oval, to ½ in diameter wing surrounding a seed seed case containing 1 seed. It has a fringe of yellow or white hairs along the margin but is otherwise hairless. The tip is deeply notched. The wing is not inflated and the seed case is distinct from the wing.

 
Similar
Species

Rock elm (Ulmus thomasii) trunk is distinct almost to the top of the tree. The branches are often crooked and gnarled. Older twigs have prominent corky ridges. The leaves are shiny and smooth to the touch. The margins have incurved teeth. The leaf veins are rarely forked. The buds diverge from the twig, are sharp pointed, and are plump, not flattened. Flowers and fruits are in clusters with a central stem. The samara is pointed, shallowly notched, and hairy, not just fringed with hairs. It is inflated, the seed case not distinct.

Slippery elm (Ulmus rubra) bark layers in cross section are uniformly brown. The leaves have several forked veins. The upper leaf surface is hairy and very rough to the touch. The buds are blunt, not pointed, dark brown, and covered with conspicuous orange or reddish-brown hairs. The samara is round with a slightly notched tip and a line that extends from the base to the notch at the tip. It does not have a fringe of hairs on the margin.

 
Pests and Diseases

Elm finger gall mite (Eriophyes parulmi) creates erect, finger-like galls, up to ½ in height, on the upper leaf surface.

Elm-leaf wart gall mite (Eriophyes ulmi) creates low, wart-like galls on the upper leaf surface.

Elm leafminer (Fenusa ulmi)


Distribution Distribution Map   Sources: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 24, 28.
 
Record

The champion American elm in Minnesota is on private property in or nearr Minneapolis, in Hennepin County. In 2010 it was measured at 80 tall and 228 in circumference (72½ in diameter).


Comments

 


Taxonomy

Family:

Ulmaceae (elm)

 

Genus:

Ulmus

 

Subgenus:

Oreoptelea

 

Section:

Blepharocarpus

 
Synonyms

Ulmus americana f. alba

Ulmus americana f. ascendens

Ulmus americana f. columnaris

Ulmus americana f. intercedens

Ulmus americana f. laevior

Ulmus americana f. pendula

Ulmus americana f. viridis

Ulmus americana var. aspera

Ulmus americana var. floridana

Ulmus floridana

 
Common
Names

American elm

soft elm

water elm

white elm


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

catkin

A slim, cylindrical, drooping cluster of many flowers. The flowers have no petals and are either male or female but not both.

 

lenticel

A corky, round or stripe-like, usually raised, pore-like opening in bark that allows for gas exchange.

 

samara

A dry fruit consisting of a seed attached to a papery wing; one seeded in Elms and Ashes, two-seeded in Maples.

 

simple leaf

A leaf that is not divided into leaflets, though it may be deeply lobed or cleft.

       

Visitor Photos

   
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Randy


American elm, front and back. Freeborn County, MN, June 2017

  American elm    
       

American elm near MN/IA border

Winter silhouette, American elm

  American elm    
       

American elm near MN/IA border

  American elm    

       
       
       

MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos

   

Trunk

  American elm    
       

Samaras

  American elm   American elm
       
  American elm    
       
       

 

Camera

     

Slideshows

   
  Ulmus americana
Blake C. Willson
 
  Ulmus americana  
 
About

American elm

 
     
  American Elm
villhauere
 
  American Elm  
     
  American Elm
J.Steinbock
 
  American Elm  
     
  Elm Tree
Andree Reno Sanborn
 
  Elm Tree  
 
About

Ulmus americana

 
     
  American Elm
jerickson1024
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on May 18, 2008

A video about an american elm

 
     

 

slideshow

     

Visitor Videos

   
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Other Videos

 
  Trees with Don Leopold - American elm
ESFTV
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Oct 21, 2011

No description available.

 
     
  American Elm Video
TheCampusTrees
 
   
 
About

Published on Apr 26, 2012

Dutch Elm Disease and research on disease resistance.

 
     

 

Camcorder

         

Visitor Sightings

   
Share your sighting of this plant.

Randy
June, 2017

Location: Freeborn County, MN

American elm, front and back.

American elm


Randy
12/12/2016

Winter silhouette, American elm

American elm


Randy
7/18/2016

Location: near MN/IA border

 

American elm


     
     
 

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