Ulmus americana

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Ulmus americana - American Elm, White Elm
Common name: American Elm, White Elm
Family: Ulmaceae (Elm)
Distribution: E. US to Texas and Dakotas; E. Canada
Habitat: Wet flats and bottomlands, riparian; 0-600 meters
Hardiness: -50 - 30 F
Life form: Deciduous tree
Bloom Time: February to March
Attracts: Butterflies, birds
Fall color: Yellow-brown
Foliage characteristics: Simple, alternate leaves with double serrated margins and pubescent underside. 3-6" long.
Fruit characteristics: Green-yellow, rounded samaras. Notched at top. .5" diameter. Ripen May to June.
Bark characteristics: Dark gray bark with deep, criss crossed ridges.
Average height: 60-80'
Structure: Three types: vase; oak-like; columnar with numerous branches covering trunk.
Description: Once a fixture of eastern US cities, the American elm is a lesson in the hazards of monoculture. In the 1800 and 1900s, growing US cities planted American elms as street trees for their graceful shape and tendency to form “living tunnels” over streets. American elms were planted along streets, in parks, and near homes in a uniform landscape - which made them an extremely easy target for Dutch elm disease. DED spread to the US in the 1950s, and took down elm after elm at a rapid pace. Rather than streets being lined with beautiful trees, they were now lined with stumps. In large part, horticulturists learned the lesson that most massive US farms have yet to, and diversified the trees they planted. Planting diverse trees allowed the entire population of trees to be more resistant to disease, pests, and other problems.
As for the American elm, northeasterners wanted to save the tree to which they had become so attached, and began working on developing resistant elm cultivars. Now, there are many elm varieties planted in cities once more.
Links: Missouri Botanical Garden Plant FinderUniversity of Connecticut Plant DatabaseUS Forest Service Fact Sheet


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