American Elm


The American elm is a tree steeped in the history of the United States. Its elegant vase-like structure and its resiliance to drought and cold weather made it the staple street tree that lined hundreds of American cities and towns, including Washington D.C. Unfortunately Dutch Elm Disease has taken a severe toll on the sturdy elms, wiping out a majority of them in the U.S. since the 1930′s. CaseyTrees is introducing hybrid varieties of the American Elm back into Washington D.C. that are resistant to the disease in order to restore the dignity and grace of this magnificent tree.

This tree is eligible for a $100 Tree Rebate.

Common Name
American elm

Latin Name
Ulmus americana

Alternate, simple, ovate to oblong, 3 to 5 inches long, 1 to 3 inches wide; margin coarsely and sharply doubly serrate; upper surface green with a paler underside

Small, rust-red colored flowers in drooping clusters of 3 to 5

Rounded, thin and papery with a bump in the middle containing the seed; deeply notched at apex

Slender, slightly zigzag, reddish brown; buds reddish brown with darker edged scales

Dark, ashy gray with flat-topped ridges separated by diamond-shaped fissures

Vase-shaped; mid-trunk divided into several large, ascending and arching limbs, ending in a maze of graceful drooping branchlets

Usually grows 60 to 90 feet, optimal growing conditions can lead to a height of 130 feet

Native Range
Eastern North America: from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, west to central Ontario, southern Manitoba, and southeastern Saskatchewan; south to extreme eastern Montana, northeastern Wyoming, western Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma into central Texas; east to central Florida; and north along the entire East Coast

Medium-large deciduous tree

Seasonal Colors
Turns a golden brown or rich yellow in fall

Grows best on rich, well-drained loams, but is suited to a wide variety of soils

Intermediately tolerant of shade

Similar Species
Slippery elm, rock elm, winged elm, cedar elm

Pests and Diseases
The American elm is highly susceptible to Dutch elm disease (DED) and elm yellows. DED is caused through the intoduction of a fungus by the elm bark beetle. The fungus clogs the tree’s xylem vessels and usually kills the tree in a few seasons, if not sooner. American elm is also the most susceptible of all the elms to verticillium wilt. Pests include the elm leaf beetle and the Japanese beetle, Popillia japonica.

Rebate Eligibility

Of Note
As a part of the battle against DED, specially resistant cultivars such as Valley Forge, New Harmony, Princeton and Jefferson have been created to restore the elm to its natural abundance.

American elm is normally a long-lived species, often reaching 175 to 200 years old, with some older than 300 years.

Photo Credits

Matt Lavin