Elm, American

Ulmus americana Deciduous

Origin: Native to Nebraska

For the first hundred or so years after settlement, American elm dominated community skylines across the state especially along streets where its tall, arching habit provided leafy canopies for blocks at a time. 

American elm tree shades house.
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Where To Grow

Varieties resistant to Dutch elm disease can be planted throughout the state. As with all trees, its success is determined by the soil type, amount of available moisture, and adjacent infrastructure (buildings, roads, etc.).
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Suitable to plant throughout the state.
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Size at Maturity

Tree Height Tree Spread
50-80' 50-80'
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Tree Characteristics

The six-inch-long, leaves are dark green throughout the year, fading to yellow in fall. In early spring, before the new leaves unfold, the rather inconspicuous, small, green flowers appear on pendulous stalks. Extra care with proper pruning must be taken with these cultivars when they are young to ensure good branching structure.

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Wildlife Benefits

The blooms are followed by green, wafer-like seedpods which mature soon after flowering is finished, and the seeds are quite popular with both birds and wildlife. 

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Additional Considerations

Several disease-resistant varieties of this classic street tree are now commercially available and have been planted with success in Nebraska.  These include ‘Princeton’, ‘Jefferson’, ‘Valley Forge’ and ‘New Harmony’. Tree enthusiasts may also be interested in rock elm or Japanese elm. 

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Interesting Facts

The loss of most American elms to Dutch elm disease in the 1960s and 70s ended the use of this tree in the landscape for most of the last few decades. The US Dept. of Agriculture estimated that only approximately 1 in 100,000 American elm trees is Dutch elm disease-tolerant, most known survivors simply escaped exposure to the disease.

Additional Images

American elm tree shades a barn in rural Nebraska.