American Elm

Basic Information
Tree ID: 
Genus and species: 
The American Elm is a species native to the eastern part of North America. It is a large deciduous, hermaphroditic tree that produces small perfect flowers in early spring. The flowers are wind pollinated, however, since they are protogynous (the female organs maturing before the male organs) this greatly reduces the chances of self fertilization. These kinds of trees can grow to more than 100 feet and they often provide great shade with their umbrella-like canopy. You have probably passed by this specific tree if you have ever taken a stroll on the New Haven Green. Unsurprisingly, this is one of very many American Elms on the Green. Maybe that's why New Haven is called Elm City!
Jummie Akinwunmi
Collected Data
Tree shape: 
Large vase-shaped
Date of tree entry: 
8.10 m
Diameter at breast height: 
0.44 m

Shown here is the bark of the American Elm tree on The Green. From the bark we can tell that he tree is still very immature. Mature American Elm trees have greyish brown bark with very distinct diamond shaped grooves.
Twigs & branches
As shown in the figure, the branches of the American Elm are brown with alternating branch points.
Ovate shaped smooth veins with visible veins. They can grow to anywhere from 3 to 5 inches, but the leaves on this particular tree were just starting to bud, so they were very small.
Reproductive Structures
The American Elm is protogynous, meaning the female organs mature before the male organs. This greatly reduces the chances of self fertilization. American Elms are also perfect flowers, so their male ad female organs appear on then same plant.
The American Elm contains green. round, flat seeds that appear hairy. They are usually about 1 inch. These seeds usually ripen and fall during the spring season before the leaves appear.
  • Late Winter 2021
  • Early Spring 2021
  • Spring 2021
Natural range of distribution: 
The American Elm is found in a variety of habitats throughout eastern North America extending from southern Canada to parts of Florida and Texas. This species thrives in loamy soils and is common on bottomlands, alluvial flats, margins of streams, ponds, swamps, and lakes, and on moist fertile slopes and uplands. It grows well with other hardwoods like sycamore, green ash, and sugarberry, but it is shaded out by larger trees including Sugar maple trees. The American elm has an intermediate shade tolerance, but it does not have a high tolerance for prolonged flooding especially during growing season (4-H Forest).
Origin, history, and uses: 

Origin and History: The American Elm is native to North America. Before European settlement, they were often used by Native Americans as a signpost for significant tribal meetings. Prior to the 20th century, American Elms were abundant in city streets and forests throughout Noth America. The species abundance began to decline, however, due to the introduction of ophiostoma ulm (commonly refered to as Dutch Elm disease) in 1928. This East Asian fungus caused a rapid decline in the number of American Elms all over America. Fortunately, American Elms mature rather quickly and produce many seeds that can be carried by tghe wind. This feature has prevented the total extinction of the species. 

Uses: The seeds of the American Elm are eaten by animals such as opposums, mice, and squirrels, Additionally, squirrels feed on the flowers of the tree. Humans often plant American Elms for use as shade lining the streets of many US cities. Its wood is also useful in the manufacture of furniture, flooring, and baskets. One fun fact is that because of its durability and fleibility, its is often used for making hockey sticks. 

The American Elm starts producing fruit at about 15 years old, but large quantities of fruit are not produced until the tree has reached maturity at about 40 years old. Flowers typically appear in early spring after pollination which can be as early as February depending on the weather. Shortly after flower production, fruits (seeds) begin to appear, ripen, and fall from the tree. By the end of the spring season, the seeds have usually fallen or been taken away by the wind, and the leaves begin to form on the tree. Trees continue to produce flowers and fruits every spring until they die up to 300 years later.
Media and Arts

The American

by Jummie Akinwunmi

Throughout eastern north America

The Elms lined city streets

Standing tall and firm and green, providing shade

with an umbrella-like canopy

We loved them for durability

And tore them down for chairs

Once upon a time they served a greater purpose

Nearby, a tribal meeting where communal decisions graced the air

Until suddenly a shipment brought more than just goods

A foreign fungus of which none could defeat

And while the people were safe and went on about their day

The American crumbled underneath our feet

One by one the elms fell they were under attack

Those in NY attempted a quarantine

But the disease and its carriers could not help but spread

And scarce was the image of lined city streets

Today, they continue to grow albeit fewer than before

Success due to each tree’s an abundance of seeds

And if you look around, you’ll probably see

American Elms speckled all throughout Elm City