Tall American elm trees (Ulmus americana) are rare in North America, since an ailment called Dutch elm disease lets few large specimens survive. Elms are appropriate as street and shade trees in the landscape and are recognizable from certain characteristics.
Size and Form
American elm trees grow to 80 or 90 feet when Dutch elm disease fails to afflict them. Most grow no taller than 40 feet before the disease takes its toll, eventually killing the trees after stunting their growth. American elms have three different forms, with most having a vase-like shape, others resembling oak trees with spreading branches and others being narrow with several branches low on their trunk.
Study the leaves of American elm, looking for about 15 separate pairs of veins running through them. The foliage is from 3 to 6 inches long, possesses serrated edges, has an asymmetrical base with one side higher than the other and is dark green. Fall colors include yellow and a pale greenish tint. Elm leaves come off the tree in autumn.
The seeds of elms are round, with a distinct notch at their top. The seeds ripen during late spring and fall to the ground. Elm bark is dark gray, with ridges running through it.
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