Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Southern Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Ulmus americana L.
- Family: Elm (Ulmaceae)
- Flowering: February-April
- Field Marks: This species has double-toothed, strongly asymmetrical leaves that do not feel like
sandpaper on the upper surface. The hairy-edged fruits have a tiny perforation near the tip.
- Habitat: River and stream bottoms and edges of swamps.
- Habit: Tree up to 100 feet tall, with a trunk diameter up to 10 feet; crown vase-shaped, widely
- Bark: Light or dark gray, furrowed, breaking into plates as it ages.
- Twigs: Slender, brown, smooth or sparsely hairy.
- Leaves: Alternate, simple, oval to elliptic, pointed at the tip, strongly asymmetrical at the base,
coarsely doubly toothed, smooth or somewhat rough to the touch on the upper surface, pale and
smooth or soft-hairy on the lower surface, up to 6 inches long, up to 3 inches broad, with a short
- Flowers: In drooping clusters of 3-4, appearing before the leaves, small, hairy.
- Sepals: 7-9, united below, greenish red, very small.
- Petals: 0.
- Stamens: 7-9.
- Pistils: Ovary superior.
- Fruits: Samaras ovate to oval, veiny, flat, smooth on the faces but densely ciliate along the edges,
with a small perforation near the top.
- Notes: The strong, heavy wood of this species has been used for flooring and in shipbuilding.
American elm is a favorite ornamental. This species has been greatly reduced by Dutch elm disease.
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