June

American Elm
Ulmus americana
Ulmaceae, Elm Family
 
american elm
 
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Check out a large specimen of this great American tree at the 575 feet/175 meters mark on the Chesapeake Arboretum’s Native Tree Trail.   Once a widely planted ornamental and street tree, American Elm has undergone significant decline, especially in New England and the Midwest,
because of an introduced fungus, Ophiostoma ulmi, or Dutch elm disease, introduced in the United States in the 1930s. With monoculture plantings on roadways and other public spaces, communities were left with urban forest canopy deficits where these beautiful vase-shaped trees once stood.  This heartbreaking experience reminds us of the importance of maintaining tree diversity in our landscapes.  Dr. Frank Santamour, Jr. of the National Arboretum, recommended planting no more
than 30% of trees from one family, 20% from one genus, and 10% from one species. 
 
American Elm has alternate, simple, toothed (doubly serrated) leaves that are typically unequal at the base. Twigs are reddish-brown and smooth with pointed buds.  Flowers are greenish-red and bloom in late winter, and the fruits are small, rounded, notched, greenish samaras which mature in early to mid-spring.
 
Though no longer recommended as a landscape tree, American Elm can still be found in many locations throughout its native range. It is an integral part of the forest ecosystem at the Chesapeake Arboretum. 
 



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