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Ulmus americana

Object Details

See more items in
Smithsonian Gardens Tree Collection
On Display
National Museum of Natural History
Accession Number
2011-0891A
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.
Hardiness
-50 - 30 F
Attracts
Butterflies, birds
Bloom Time
February to March
Provenance
Uncertain
Topic
Trees
Living Collections
Range
E. US to Texas and Dakotas; E. Canada
Habitat
Wet flats and bottomlands, riparian; 0-600 meters
Life Form
Deciduous tree
Average Height
60-80'
Bark Characteristics
Dark gray bark with deep, criss crossed ridges.
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.
Structure
Three types: vase; oak-like; columnar with numerous branches covering trunk.
Data Source
Smithsonian Gardens
Common Name
American Elm
White Elm
Group
[vascular plants]
Class
Equisetopsida
Subclass
Magnoliidae
Superorder
Rosanae
Order
Rosales
Family
Ulmaceae
Genus
Ulmus
Species
americana
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply
GUID
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ax7e62ca0e6-d563-4e91-b6c2-e36244131e8c
Record ID
ofeo-sg_2011-0891A
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
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