American Elm Tree

Height: 60 to 80 feet in height  

Evergreen/Deciduous: Deciduous

Lifespan: Up to 200 years old, though Dutch elm disease kills many trees before reaching maturity

Fall Foliage: An attractive shade of golden brown to orange

Range: The eastern United States, from Maine to Florida, west to the Dakotas  

Typical Habitat: Grows best in rich, moist bottomlands and riparian areas  

The American Elm: An Imperiled Icon   

The American elm is one of the most iconic trees in the U.S., and it was formerly a part of the Smalltown, USA aesthetic, as it was widely planted as a street tree. But unfortunately, a fungus from Asia reached North American shores in the 1920s, where it caused widespread destruction to the species.

Known as Dutch elm disease, the ailment has caused the number of healthy mature American elms to plummet across the country. Nevertheless, specimens can still be found, and those springing up in isolated areas – which makes them less susceptible to the disease – may even reach maturity.   

American Elm Identification: Tips & Tricks

The American elm’s large, asymmetrical leaves make it pretty easy to distinguish from most other native trees. The only species that is frequently confused with it is its close relative the slippery elm (Ulmus rubra). And unfortunately, distinguishing between these two species is rather tricky.

The best clue involves the tree’s buds, which are red in the case of the slippery elm. The tips of slippery elm leaves are also more elongated than those of American elms.

The American Elm: Additional Information

Looking for more information about this amazing species? Check out these fantastic American elm resources to continue your journey:

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