How to Identify Elm Trees

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Elms are deciduous trees that have existed on Earth for over 40 million years. Elms have been widely used for their beauty as ornamental trees. During the 19th century they were among the most important lumber trees for building and construction. The Liberty Tree of the Boston Common and the famed trees of Sherwood Forest lore, elms can be easily identified by their shape as well as individual characteristics on their bark and leaves.

Characteristics of elm trees

  • Look for prominent flares in the roots that branch out wider than most trees.

  • See if the leaves and branches have a tendency to droop downwards from the center of the tree. This drooping effect gives all elm trees an umbrella-like appearance.

  • Look for an uneven base on the bottom of each leaf. While most tree leaves will line up symmetrically, elm leaves do not.

  • Look for oval-shaped leaves with a saw-toothed edge that alternate in two rows pointing away from the shoot.

  • Look for bark that is dark and heavily gray, with deep ridges intersecting on the diagonal.

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