Height: 40 to 90 feet
Lifespan: Unclear; potentially 100 years or more
Fall Foliage: Yellow to orange; not especially spectacular fall color
Range: The southeastern United States from east Texas to Virginia, found inland to Missouri and Illinois
Typical Habitat: Adaptable, but grows best with plenty of sun exposure
The Winged Elm: A Low-Key Member of the Forest
Because they’re related to the larger slippery (Ulmus rubra) and American elms (Ulmus americana), winged elms rarely receive as much attention. However, they’re still important trees, which deserve respect and interest.
Also known as the wahoo, the winged elm is an attractive tree, with a form that’s sometimes described as “lacy.” It produces large quantities of seeds, which are important food sources for birds and small mammals, and its twigs and leaves are eaten by deer.
Winged Elm Identification: Tips & Tricks
Winged elms are often pretty easy trees to identify, especially once you has seen several individuals. Their leaves – like those of other elms – have uneven bases and teeth around the edge. However, they’re much smaller than the leaves of slippery or American elms.
But it is the numerous corky “wings” found along the tree’s young branches that are the easy characteristic to consider. Indeed, this even allows for identification in the winter, once the leaves have fallen.
The Winged Elm: Additional Information
Has the wahoo sparked your curiosity? Learn more about this great elm by checking out these resources:
- U.S. Forest Service: A detailed guide to the winged elm, including a detailed range map.
- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: A data-rich resource including planting information, wildlife interactions, and several photographs.
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: A fairly comprehensive guide to the species, including notes on the culture and maintenance of the species.