winged elm
Ulmus alata

Secondary Names:

Leaf Type: Deciduous
Texas Native:
Tree Description:

A medium or large tree to 70 feet tall and a trunk to 2 feet in diameter, with an open, somewhat vase-shaped crown, and graceful, pendant branches.

Range/Site Description:

In East Texas, south to the valley of the Guadalupe River, on a variety of sites, from dry, sandy uplands to moist soils along streams and swamps.


Simple, alternate, 2" to 4" long and 1" to 2" wide, oval or elliptical in shape, pointed at the tip, margin coarsely double-toothed, dark green and smooth above, paler and often pubescent below with prominent veins. Leaf base can vary from slightly lopsided to wedge-shaped. Twigs with prominent corky wings on the twigs, with gaps at the leaf nodes.


Borne in early spring, long before the leaves unfold, as drooping clusters. One of the first trees to flower, often in late January or early February.


Ripening in spring about the time the leaves appear, as a reddish-brown, oblong, winged seed ("samara"), 0.25" to 0.33" long, hairy, especially along the margin, and tipped with two small, incurved beaks.


Light brown tinged with red, divided by irregular shallow fissures into flat ridges.


Similar to that of the other elms: heavy, hard, and difficult to split, occasionally used for tool handles or furniture parts.

Similar Species:

Water-elm (Planera aquatica) occurs in wetlands in East Texas and has a small cone-like fruiting structure; cedar elm (Ulmus crassifolia) has smaller leaves, seeds that ripen in the fall, and corky wings on the twigs that don't have gaps at the leaf nodes.

Interesting Facts:

Early settlers used the inner bark to fashion coarse rope to bind the covers of cotton bales.

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