American Elm – Ulmas americana

American Elm seeds
American Elm seeds

This semi-deciduous tree of the eastern woodlands has very early flowers that are small and purple-brown. The flowers are followed by a single seed surrounded by circular wing in April. The leaves of this tree turn brown in fall but do not always fall until the new leaves replace them.

Native Americans made canoes out of the trunks of the elm, and the early settlers would steam the wood, so that it would bend to make barrels, wheel hoops, and the rockers on rocking chairs. The Natives also were the first to use the elm for its wood’s strength…they made mortars and lodge posts from the trunks. The bark was used to make various containers, such as maple syrup buckets. The stems contain a fiber that was used to make paper.

The bark was used to make an infusion for the treatment of coughs, colds, influenza, dysentery, eye infections, cramps, and diarrhea. The inner bark was used as an emollient on tumors.

It is the state tree of Massachusetts and North Dakota.


One response to this post.

  1. We have the more “weedy” variety in our yard, Siberian Elm (Ulmas pumila) but while the wood grows very fast and isn’t good quality for building, it is great medicine and food and can replace slippery elm if need be, since it is so sustainable. Thanks for sharing!


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