13. American White Elm

(Ulmus americana)

Other Common Names: Fluttering Elm, Spreading Elm, Russian Elm.

Family: Ulmaceae

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Superb form and majestic presence make this tree at the HUB bus-stop special. In Seattle at least, American White Elms, unlike English Elms, make comparatively few, tiny, hairy seeds in spring. The leaves turn bright yellow early in the fall. The bark is more ropelike and less chunky. The roots don't sucker. Above all, the American Elm builds an arching, vase-like crown of uplifting branches from which descend fine branchlets of more refined foliage.

American White Elm is native to most of Eastern North America. A fungal infection known as Dutch elm disease has caused catastrophic die-off throughout the range of the species. These elms are also susceptible to several other pathogens, making it difficult to use them as street trees, but otherwise they are ideal because of their fast growth and stress tolerance. The wood of an American Elm is moderately heavy, hard, and stiff with interlocking grain that makes it difficult to split but ideal for use in the production of hockey sticks where bending is necessary. It has also been used for production of furniture, flooring, construction, and mining timbers.  The inner bark is fibrous and used to make strong ropes. Fibers obtained from the stems have been used to make beige paper.

[Leaves and seeds of American White Elm]

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