Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: American Elm, White Elm
Ulmus americana

Family: Ulmaceae (ulm-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Ulmus (ULM-us) (Info)
Species: americana (a-mer-ih-KAY-na) (Info)

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

3 members have or want this plant for trade.


over 40 ft. (12 m)

over 40 ft. (12 m)

USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)
USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From softwood cuttings
From semi-hardwood cuttings
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors
By grafting
By budding

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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There are a total of 27 photos.
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4 positives
3 neutrals
2 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative coriaceous On Mar 26, 2015, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

I remember the magnificent, cathedral-like spaces these trees used to form on the National Mall in Washington.

Dutch elm disease has devastated ornamental plantings in the USA. Most are now gone. The few that survive mostly do so through unsustainable pruning and spraying programs.

The wild species includes trees with a variety of habits---the classic elegant vase shape is only one of several different forms. We generally forget the shallow thirsty roots that heaved sidewalks and destroyed lawns. We also commonly forget that this is subject to a host of other devastating pests and diseases.

There are now a few clones with hard data showing some tolerance to DED, and these are the trees to plant, and not the species. All of them are seriously vulnerable to numerous other common problems. But the best protection from the next such scourge is the planting of a diversity of trees on our urban streets.

When the elms were dying around us, there was much handwringing about how we've learned our lesson and will never depend on monoculture planting again. Then, after a few years, we went back to planting fewer than half a dozen species on city streets.

In the face of the frequent introduction of devastating pests and diseases (sudden oak death, emerald ash borer, Asian longhorn beetle, etc.), will we never learn to diversify our planting?

Positive nlafrance3 On Mar 25, 2015, nlafrance3 from Edmonton, AB (Zone 4a) wrote:

Amazing giant that grows in large numbers in Edmonton,AB. Thankfully the trees have been spared any major diseases that other cities have seen (knock on wood). A very large percent of the boulevard trees in Edmonton are American Elm. They grow up to 100 feet tall. Hardy to at least zone 2a in Northern Alberta and maybe colder.

Positive Rickwebb On Dec 26, 2013, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

The White or American Elm is the most beautuiful elm in the world with its wonderful arching vase shape, and it usually gets good golden fall color. I remember so many along the street when I was a boy in the 1950's into the 70's in the Chicago area of Illinois. Dutch Elm Disease and also Phoem Necrosis killed off over 99% of the trees, though some (about 1 out of 100,000) survived by having resistance within them. The two cities of Elmhurst and Hinsdale, Illinois, have worked so hard on removing infected trees that they still have some old elm trees lining some streets even into 2013. Resistant cultivars have been developed from these surviviors. The Nature Conservancy and others are working on selecting American Elm material that will not be cultivars, but naturally producing stright species that are resistant.

Positive plant_it On May 17, 2013, plant_it from Valparaiso, IN wrote:

A beautiful tree. Graceful, arching, vase-like growth form. The wood has great strength and limb breakage is rare. I've read that Sapsucker woodpeckers have a great love of young elm trees.

The American elm is native to eastern North America, occurring from Nova Scotia west to Alberta and Montana, and south to Florida and central Texas. It's an extremely hardy tree that can withstand winter temperatures as low as −42 C (−44 F).

Neutral peachespickett On Feb 7, 2008, peachespickett from Huntington, AR wrote:

These grow wild here in western Arkansas, but larger ones are rare due to the Dutch Elm disease. The University of Arkansas @ Fort SMith has an ENORMOUS one in the lawn along Grand Avenue.

Negative JanetteD On Apr 23, 2006, JanetteD from Indianapolis, IN wrote:

I have two mature & lovely elm trees in my backyard (corner lot). My neighbor also decided to harbor one that was growing on the fence line, so now I have a third hanging over my yard, and my power lines. If I had known then what I know now, I would have snuck out and cut that little tree down first chance I got! These trees are lovely, but they are spindly & "sticky". The yard, the drive, the road, my flowerbeds and everything else are constantly covered with little twigs & leafy sticks. I'm able to mulch them with my mower, but the ones in the flower beds are a nusiance. Also, the branches don't seem to be that sturdy. Over the last ten years I have had 3 large branches break off & fall during storms. I fear it's only a matter of time until my neighbor's fenceline tree takes out my phone & electricity! And now they are dropping these big, fat drops of sap on everything. There were droplets all over my car, but I figured out it wasn't water when I got onto the highway & they didn't move! I don't remember them doing this sap thing before. There has always been some, but not to this degree. The only theory I can think of is that during the recent mega-hailstorm when a million elm sticks fell into the yard, each of the little "wounds" started oozing sap. Don't get me wrong however, these trees have been wonderful and add a lot to the value of the house. It's only been in the past couple years since I've started using my backyard a lot more that I've mostly noticed these problems. I don't think I would have chosen them for a small lot based on my experience, but I love those trees, they are beautiful & I guess they are worth the troubles.

Neutral darylmitchell On Sep 6, 2005, darylmitchell from Saskatoon, SK (Zone 3a) wrote:

The American elm was a favoured street tree for many years. They are relatively fast growing, thrive in a wide range of soils, tolerate soil compaction, root disturbance, drought and extreme winter cold. Their high-headed, vase-shaped structure creates a green canopy high above with few lower branches to obstruct buildings and vehicles on the ground. When planted on either side of a street, they form graceful gothic arches at maturity.

The 1930s saw the arrival Dutch Elm disease (DED), a fungus that is carried by the elm bark beetle, in the eastern U.S. Millions of trees were killed, leaving some cities with almost no elms remaining. The disease has moved across North America, and decimated both urban and wild populations of elms. By the 1990s it reached Saskatchewan, the northern and western limit of its native range. Prevention measures such as the immediate removal of diseased trees, and bans on the transportation of elm wood, have slowed the progression of DED.

Several hybrid elms have been developed that are more resistant to DED. "Liberty" and "Valley Forge" are two hybrids that show promising results. Another variety called "Princeton" is a true elm instead of a hybrid. It appears to have a naturally high resistance to DED.

Positive trois On Jun 22, 2004, trois from Santa Fe, TX (Zone 9b) wrote:

When we cleared the jungle on our place we discovered a number of American Elm trees. These are very graceful trees. When I was young it was the most common tree along the creeks. We have about a hundred scattered over the place. Several are in the 50 foot range. Very handsome leaves. Rich looking .


Neutral mystic On Aug 31, 2001, mystic from Ewing, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:

American Elm is a large, fast growing deciduous tree with a broad vase shape. It grows to over 75 feet. Has tiny red flowers in early spring that are followed by winged green fruit in late spring.The leaves are medium green,turning yellow in the fall.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Huntington, Arkansas
Bartow, Florida
Hinsdale, Illinois
Poplar Grove, Illinois
Valparaiso, Indiana
Benton, Kentucky
Clermont, Kentucky
Frankfort, Kentucky
Georgetown, Kentucky
Lexington, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Nicholasville, Kentucky
Paris, Kentucky
Versailles, Kentucky
Coushatta, Louisiana
Edgard, Louisiana
Vacherie, Louisiana
New Madrid, Missouri
Piedmont, Missouri
Reno, Nevada
Exeter, New Hampshire
Buffalo, New York
Cincinnati, Ohio
Ada, Oklahoma
Reading, Pennsylvania
Austin, Texas (2 reports)
Converse, Texas
Mc Kinney, Texas
Santa Fe, Texas
Orem, Utah
Elmwood, Wisconsin
Madison, Wisconsin
Kinnear, Wyoming
Riverton, Wyoming

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