Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Southern Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Planera aquatica Walter
- Family: Elm (Ulmaceae)
- Flowering: March-April
- Field Marks: This species has leaves that resemble the leaves of elms in the genus Ulmus, but
the edges are only singly toothed. The fruits are nut-like and not winged.
- Habitat: Swamps, low woods, bottomlands, sand and gravel bars.
- Habit: Tree to 50 feet tall; trunk diameter up to 18 inches; crown broadly rounded.
- Bark: Gray or pale brown, but black if flooded for long periods, smooth at first, but later splitting
into large scales which expose the reddish brown inner bark.
- Twigs: Slender, reddish brown to gray, smooth or sparsely hairy.
- Leaves: Alternate, simple, lanceolate to lanceolate-ovate, pointed at the tip, tapering to the
usually asymmetrical base, singly toothed, smooth on the upper surface, smooth or slightly hairy
on the lower surface, up to 3 inches long.
- Flowers: Male and female usually borne separately on the same tree; male flowers in small
clusters on last year's twigs; female flowers in the axils of the leaves.
- Sepals: 4-5, small, united below.
- Petals: 0.
- Stamens: 4-5.
- Pistils: Ovary superior, on a short stalk.
- Fruits: Nut-like, ovoid, soft prickly, up to 1/4 inch long.
- Notes: Some of the flowers may have both stamens and pistils. When they do, there is usually
only 1 stamen. This low tree is found as an understory tree of swamps and other areas that
are frequently inundated. It can withstand long periods of flooding. This species is often called
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