Elm American Elm White Elm
=Habitat and Range.=--Low, moist ground; thrives especially on rich
From Cape Breton to Saskatchewan, as far north as 54 deg. 30'.
Maine,--common, most abundant in central and southern portions; New
Hampshire,--common from the southern base of the White mountains to the
sea; in the remaining New England states very common, attaining its
highest development in the rich alluvium of the Connecticut river
South to Florida; west to Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Texas.
=Habit.=--In the fullness of its vigor the American elm is the most
stately and graceful of the New England trees, 50-110 feet high and 1-8
feet in diameter above the swell of the roots; characterized by an
erect, more or less feathered or naked trunk, which loses itself
completely in the branches, by arching limbs, drooping branchlets set at
a wide angle, and by a spreading head widest near the top. Modifications
of these elements give rise to various well-marked forms which have
received popular names.
1. In the vase-shaped tree, which is usually regarded as the type, the
trunk separates into several large branches which rise, slowly
diverging, 40-50 feet, and then sweep outward in wide arches, the
smaller branches and spray becoming pendent.
2. In the umbrella form the trunk remains entire nearly to the top of
the tree, when the branches spread out abruptly, forming a broad,
shallow arch, fringed at the circumference with long, drooping
3. The slender trunk of the plume elm rises, usually undivided, a
considerable height, begins to curve midway, and is capped with a
one-sided tuft of branches and delicate, elongated branchlets.
4. The drooping elm differs from the type in the height of the arch and
greater droop of the branches, which sometimes sweep the ground.
5. In the oak form the limbs are more or less tortuous and less arching,
forming a wide-spreading, rounded head.
In all forms short, irregular, pendent branchlets are occasional along
the trunks. The trees most noticeably feathered are usually of medium
size, and have few large branches, the superfluous vitality manifesting
itself in a copious fringe, which sometimes invests and obliterates the
great pillars which support the masses of foliage. Conspicuous at all
seasons of the year,--in spring when its brown buds are swollen to
bursting, or when the myriads of flowers, insignificant singly, give in
the sunlight an atmosphere of purplish-brown; when clothed with light,
airy masses of deep green in summer or pale yellow in autumn, or in
winter when the great trunk and mighty sweep of the arching branches
distinguish it from all other trees. The roots lie near the surface and
run a great distance.
=Bark.=--Dark gray, irregularly and broadly striate, rather firmly
ridged, in very old trees sometimes partially detached in plates;
branches ash-gray, smooth; branchlets reddish-brown; season's shoots
often pubescent, light brown in late fall.
=Winter Buds and Leaves.=--Buds ovate, brown, flattened, obtuse to
acute, smooth. Leaves simple, alternate, 2-5 inches long, 2-3 inches
wide, dark green and roughish above, lighter and downy at first beneath;
outline ovate or oval to obovate-oblong, sharply and usually doubly
serrate; apex abruptly pointed; base half acute, half rounded, produced
on one side, often slightly heart-shaped or obtuse; veins straight and
prominent; leafstalk stout, short; stipules small, soon falling. Leaves
drop in early autumn.
=Inflorescence.=--April. In loose lateral clusters along the preceding
season's shoots; flowers brown or purplish, mostly perfect, with
occasional sterile and fertile on the same tree; stems slender; calyx
7-9-lobed, hairy or smooth; stamens 7-9, filaments slender, anthers
exserted, brownish-red; ovary flat, green, ciliate; styles 2.
=Fruit.=--Ripening in May, before the leaves are fully grown, a samara,
1/2 inch in diameter, oval or ovate, smooth on both sides, hairy on
the edge, the notch in the margin closed or partially closed by the two
=Horticultural Value.=--Hardy throughout New England; grows in any soil,
but prefers a deep, rich loam; the ideal street tree with its high,
overarching branches and moderate shade; grows rapidly, throws out few
low branches, bears pruning well; now so seriously affected by numerous
insect enemies that it is not planted as freely as heretofore;
objectionable on the borders of gardens or mowing land, as the roots run
along near the surface for a great distance. Very largely grown in
nurseries, usually from seed, sometimes from small collected plants.
Though so extremely variable in outline, there are no important
horticultural forms in cultivation.
1. Winter buds.
2. Flowering branch.
3. Flower, side view.
4. Fruiting branch.
5. Mature leaf.
=Ulmus fulva, Michx.=
Ulmus pubescens, Walt.
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