American elm
Ulmus americana

Secondary Names:
white elm

Leaf Type: Deciduous
Texas Native:
Tree Description:

A large tree to 90 feet tall and a trunk diameter to 3 feet, with a buttressed base and upright branches that form a spreading, vase-shaped crown.

Range/Site Description:

Occurs across a vast area of the eastern U.S., into East and Central Texas, occurring naturally on well-drained soils along streams and rivers, but also planted widely as a shade tree.


Alternate, simple, 4" to 6" long and 2" to 3" wide, oval or ovate in shape, tip drawn to a point, lopsided at the base, and double-toothed along the margin; leaf surface is either smooth or rough above and pubescent or smooth below, with raised veins.


Appearing before the leaves in early spring as small, greenish clusters on slender stalks in the axils of the leaves.


An oval "samara" (winged fruit), with the seed portion in the center surrounded entirely by a wing with a fuzzy edge, ripening in the spring. The hairs on the samara margin and the deep notch in the end are characteristic of the species.


Dark gray, divided into irregular flat-topped, thick ridges, with narrow fissures between. An incision into an outer ridge of bark will show alternating brown and cream colored layers.


Heavy, hard, strong, tough, and difficult to split; once used for wheel hubs, saddle trees, veneer for baskets and crates, and furniture parts.

Similar Species:

Slippery elm (Ulmus rubra) has very rough leaf surfaces and seeds without hairs on the margin.

Interesting Facts:

This species was the most common street tree in America at the beginning of the 20th Century, but was almost wiped out by Dutch Elm Disease.

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