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Ulmus americana

Common Name(s):
American elm
New Harmony - disease resistant, Liberty, 'Valley Forge' - Dutch elm disease resistant
Native Plants, Trees

Ulmus americana, commonly called American elm, is a medium to large deciduous tree, typically growing to 60-80’ (less frequently to 130’) tall with a vase-shaped, broad-rounded crown. It is native to eastern and central North America. Although once widely planted as a street and lawn tree, American elm populations have been so decimated by Dutch elm disease that this tree is no longer considered to be a viable selection for landscape uses.

The American elm is a beautiful native shade tree in the Ulmaceae family.  It has a fibrous root system making it easy to transplant.  


Seasons of Interest: 

   Blooms:   Winter             Nut/Fruit/Seed:  Early Spring

Wildlife Value:  The Americal elm is moderately resistant to damage from deer.  It is a host plant for the Painted Lady, Eastern Comma, Mourning Cloak, Question Mark, and Red Spotted Purple butterflies.  The seeds are eaten by songbirds and small mammals.  

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:  Dutch elm disease, a fatal fungal disease spread by airborne bark beetles, attacks the water-conducting tissue of the tree, resulting in wilting, defoliation and death. Phloem necrosis is a disease caused by a phytoplasma that attacks the food-conducting tissue of this tree, usually resulting in a loosening of the bark, wilting, defoliation and death. Wetwood is a bacterial disease that results in wilting and dieback. Various wilts, rots, cankers and leaf spots may also occur. Insect visitors include borers, leaf miner, beetles, mealy bugs, caterpillars and scaleis


75-125 ft.
The American elm has insignificant small green flowers that appear in spring before the foliage emerges. The flowers give way to single-seeded wafer-like samaras (each tiny seed is surrounded by a flattened oval-rounded papery wing). The seeds mature in April-May as the leaves reach full size.
Grow the American elm in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. This tree is tolerant of light shade. It prefers rich, moist loams and will adapt to both wet and dry sites. It is generally tolerant of urban conditions.
Medium to coarse
Upright, vase-shaped, spreading, arching. branches; variable form
Full sun
60-120 ft.
Growth Rate:
Moderate to rapid
The American elm has rough-textured, ovate-elliptic, dark green leaves (to 6” long) with toothed margins and asymetrical bases. The leaves typically turn an undistinguished yellow in fall.
cpp, air pollution, urban, deciduous, drought tolerant, street tree, native tree, black walnut, shade tree, songbirds, rain garden, butterflies

NCCES plant id: 2232

Ulmus americana Ulmus americana
Geneva Wirth, CC BY-NC-2.0
Ulmus americana Ulmus americana
Matt Lavin, CC-BY-SA-2.0
Ulmus americana Ulmus americana
Eli Sagor, CC BY-NC-2.0